It sure seemed like a short local season this year. The cold, wet spring and heavy rains in June pushed a lot of crops back a couple of weeks. Add to this a few soggy and cold days in early September, and, “So long, tomatoes!” Nothing seemed to last for long this season.
For many of the farms we work with, it was a tough season. By the end of August, one of the farms sales were down over 50 percent from last season at the same time. Others fared better, and we were able to feature excellent quality local products in our specials programs. That’s what we like to do; sell lots of peak season local produce at a good price!
And although peak season may be long gone, you can still find a bounty of locally grown produce in the Co-op’s Produce department. Following is a list of local farms, and what they have “in store” for you!
West Star has been supplying us with both curly and flat-leaf Italian parsley this season, and will keep it going as long as we don’t get a heavy frost. They’ll also be supplying us with the 3-lb. potato medley, a mix of little blue, red, golden, and russet potatoes. Look for spaghetti squash from West Star in our big winter squash display. George grew the Silver Queen garlic this year. It’s a variety that stores better than other hardnecks, so maybe we’ll see some of this later in the year!
Kay and Paul are your primary suppliers of onions this year. They’ll have white, red, and yellow storage varieties available. Look for kohlrabi, carnival squash, radishes, and with some luck, broccoli and romanesco from the crew at Jen Ehr.
Here’s a success story for you: this farm increased sales 500 percent this season—obviously, not a bad season for Rufus and his co-op of Amish growers! Keewaydin will have chard and dandelions greens until the weather keeps them from growing. Scallions should be in good supply. This year, we didn’t plan a lot of purchases from Keewaydin, but with the way things have been going with them, who knows what we’ll see!
Tipi is one of the Co-op’s veteran suppliers, and we love working with them! Steve predicts good supplies on cabbages into January, with leeks and Brussels sprouts through the month and into mid-late November. Bok choy and tatsoi may have some supply gaps, but should be available until the end of the month. Look for mustards to come back in early October, and kale and collards possibly into November. The cool, sunny summer has been good for these crops, and Steve says quality should be excellent!
Tipi’s carrots are a trademark product through the winter months at the Co-op, and we’re looking forward to running some specials on them for you! You should see carrots in early October, and supplies should last through winter.
Richard and his crew have had a couple rough years! Mother Nature has delivered them some hard blows, but they continue to overcome and persevere. Richard’s experience and persistence qualify him as perhaps one of the most definitive organic farmers in the Midwest, and we’re looking forward to seeing some of their fall staples on our shelves.
For root crops, look for red, gold, and chioggia beets, parsnips, turnips, celeriac, rutabaga, sunchokes, and burdock. They’ll be supplying us with daikon, and the eye-catching beauty heart radish. Look for shallots and red cipollini onions as well. Their soup mix bags should be available near the end of the month.
And, weather permitting, some delicious fall spinach, salad mix, arugula, and sauté mix! If the weather’s kind, maybe we can help them make up for some lost sales on these crops from the this summer’s floods.
The wet spring put these Antigo potato farmers behind schedule a bit, but harvest started in mid-September, and we should see their 5-lb bags of Yukons, reds, and russets around mid to late October.
David and Barb Perkins are our primary suppliers of garlic and bulk potatoes, and are as professional as professional gets. David reports good yields on the garlic harvest this year. Last year, you purchased 1,600 lbs of garlic from Vermont Valley, and supplies held through late December.
Yields and sizing on potatoes will be down a bit this year due to plant-stress related to flood rains, but supplies should last at least through October and into November. We’re excited to try Vermont Valley’s Adirondak red and blue potatoes this season as well, and welcome your feedback!
Vermont Valley has an additional 22 acres of prime farmland going into organic certification for next season. They’re eager to see what it produces, and so are we!
Ellen and Bob are one of a handful of certified organic orchards in the state, and fortunately for us, they’re in Ridgeway—close enough to make deliveries to the Co-op. Did you try their plums this year? They were fabulous!
Look for Future Fruit pears and apples this fall in our organic fruit section. Their apples are great for baking and eating fresh. Future Fruits apples are typically smaller than the Washington apples, which make them a perfect apple for bobbing!
As always, you’ll find Ela Orchards apples in our conventional section. Bob uses integrated pest management and low-spray methods to produce a variety of antique and heirloom apples. His quality is consistently superb. If not, he tells us, and we move on to a higher quality variety. Look for Ela apples through fall into winter and try them all!
October is the Bunn family’s time to shine, literally. They supply us with carving pumpkins, and Henry says there’s plenty. Look for pumpkins to start coming in a couple of weeks prior to trick-or-treat.
In addition, YesterYear will be supplying the Co-op with pie pumpkins and winter squash! Unfortunately, the better part of their butternut planting got washed out in the flood, but other varieties should be in good supply!
The Ruesch family has been our only supplier of locally grown organic cranberries. Tom passed away in December of 2007, but the farm remains in operation under the care of his family. Lynn Olson (Cooperative Services Manager) and I are heading up to the farm, and Tom’s son Brian is putting us to work dry-raking cranberries! Cranberries should be here by the end of the month. Look for a special on them in November, and buy up! We are always out near Thanksgiving, but they freeze well.
So stop in and get yourself some good, local food this fall. Look for product signs with purple price inserts, and eat locally, seasonally, and eat well!