News from the Farm | July 18, 2022

The news from the farm is that tomatoes are here. The trickle of tomatoes has grown each week and has now reached the point when we have enough to put them in the CSA boxes, which is exciting.

We grow a lot of tomatoes and a lot of different types. There are separate harvesting teams for the cherry tomatoes, red slicers and early girls, and heirlooms. All of those teams are quite busy and so are teams doing the sorting and packing.

Two of the main ways our tomatoes leave the farm (especially for our store, restaurant, and wholesale customers) are flats with twelve baskets of mixed cherry tomatoes or ten-pound boxes of mixed heirlooms. In order to have nice mix of tastes, shapes, and colors, it means we grow many, many varieties. This diversity also helps hedge against disease issues and other potential problems with any particular variety.

Making a mixed flat of heirlooms is like a game of tetris, fitting the different shapes together into a nice layer. For a basket of mixed cherry tomatoes, each harvester goes out and picks a different variety into a bucket, then the various types are combined and mixed on a large sorting table, and then the tomatoes are put into the pint containers. Want some for yourself? CSA members can add them to any CSA box for the rest of the summer via the online CSA store.

Other tomatoes are harvested into harvest crates, not buckets, but the work is similar. Picking anything in the summer is hard, hot work, but tomatoes even more so because the picker is sandwiched between two tall walls of tomato vines (artfully tied up) and the humidity makes it feel a few degrees warmer than in an open field. It’s like being in a jungle! To help tame the vines and make the tomatoes easier to find and access, this week Yasuaki went through the rows with a hedge trimmer to remove excess growth (not tomatoes) and clean things up.

All steps of the process to grow tomatoes (planting, transplanting, staking, tying, picking, packing, etc.) are a lot of work, more so than what’s required for many other crops. But we think it’s worth it for each bite of juicy, delicious tomato that results. It just doesn’t feel like summer without tomatoes.

– Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager