Crops Have a Rhythm, Too

Hello again! Did you know that we already have a variety of fresh produce available for you to take home? You can pick some up at Think well. Community Coffee in Waverly, Iowa. You’ll also find some of our goat milk soaps and herbal teas there, if you’re interested.

One thing many people ask us is why our selection of produce changes throughout the year. Wal-Mart has bins full of tomatoes all year long, so why don’t we? That’s a great question. It all has to do with seasonality.

What does it mean for a crop to be seasonal? Well, left to their own devices, plants are great at following nature’s rhythms. We see it all the time with trees: they bloom in the spring, get green and leafy in the summer, and then lose their leaves in the fall. Then they take a break during the winter, waiting until spring to begin the cycle all over again.

Many of our crops are like this, too. For example, we only harvest tomatoes in late summer and fall, and our spinach shows up in the cooler months of the year. Crops like these are at their best during these times, so we don’t force them to grow at any other time.

So are there any crops that can grow during the winter? Actually, yes! Some crops can be grown, harvested, and eaten even when there’s snow on the ground.

But extra measures have to be taken to protect the crops during this time. This often involves covering them with cloth or keeping them in raised, lidded beds, to keep the frost and cold wind at bay.

We don’t currently grow any crops during the coldest winter months, but we do make sure that the crops we’ve already planted stay safe until spring. We also use our greenhouse to give some of them a head start. That way, they’re ready for you as soon as possible when things warm up.

The idea of crops being seasonal is a surprise to many people. After all, most of the fruits and vegetables we want are easy to find at the grocery store, no matter when we look for them. What’s going on here? Whatever you may think about modern diets, people everywhere still crave fresh, healthy produce. So businesses have found lots of creative ways to fill this demand year-round.

In the United States, much of the produce we see during the colder months is actually grown farther south, in Arizona, Mexico, and other places. Then it’s shipped to grocery stores around the country. Crops can sometimes spend as long as four days on the road before it ends up on the shelves.

So if supermarkets can bring us spinach and tomatoes all year long, why does anyone bother with in-season crops? Well, in some cases, crops grown in-season can actually be healthier. One study found that broccoli harvested in the fall had twice as much vitamin C as broccoli harvested in the spring.

Also, to make up for the changes in out-of-season crops, commercial farms often use some surprising methods for quality control. These “postharvest treatments” can involve spraying them with chemicals, covering them in invisible coatings, and even applying radiation.

Besides, fresher produce just tastes better! There’s something about fruits and vegetables from the supermarket that just can’t compare to the ones you buy from your local farmer market (or farmstand!). That’s one of the reasons we’re committed to staying green, no matter what time of year it is.

Thanks for stopping by today. Stay healthy, and we’ll see you again soon!