This was a saturated, no good, muddy, wet week at the farm following a washout weekend. When we first began running produce stands, it didn’t take long to figure out that when the sun was out we were busy and when it rained we were slow. We weren’t farming back then and I remember the farmer saying, “We really need the rain,” and I would respond “But do we? On the weekend?” This past week we received over 8″ of rain following a period of dry weather. Now that we are farming I found myself listing and contemplating all the problems and complexities brought to us by a solid week of rain during our peek season.
First, as I mentioned is that business slows down. Not as many people are planning cookouts and tempted to pull over at a produce stand on a rainy day so the produce already picked can go to waste. We are thankful that our CSA members and loyal stand customers show up rain or shine. Heavy rains and severe weather are also detrimental to our tents and equipment as we learned the hard way at our Tilden stand this week when all four of our tents were damaged or destroyed leaving us scrambling for a few days to regroup.
On the farming and supply side of the business there are also challenges. All the rain leaves the farm difficult to operate. Trucks get stuck in the mud and the tractor can compact the soil. Then there’s erosion, and flooding. The rain can damage the fruit on the plant, especially berries and tomatoes, susceptible to splitting when they absorb the rain. If the plants aren’t given a chance to dry out they are subject to molds and mildews which we found in our zucchini and can spread rapidly. There was evident frustration on the crew’s faces as the new technique of tenting our tomatoes to keep them dry was not a complete success. The wind would blow the plastic canopy off the plants every couple hours. In one area I saw an entire row of staked heirloom tomatoes fallen over due to the weight of the plants and the saturation of the soil. Sometimes it seems the best thing to do is wait. I walked past a field of sunflowers seeming to be waiting for the sun. While we waited for the farm to dry out we graded the heirloom tomatoes and I got to check a few items off my rainy day list. This was a week of hard knocks for sure but as they say you got to make hay while the sun is shining and we are looking forward to making some hay this weekend. Sunflowers and tomatoes are coming on strong and we are looking forward to getting back to harvesting and planting for the fall. We have ordered another half acre of earli-glo strawberries to plant in August for the spring. Have a great week everyone.