News from the Farm | October 3, 2022

It looks like we’ve got one more week of weather in the 90s, but melon season has ended. It was a good season, running from early July to the end of September, about 16,300 CSA boxes with melons, many including two (small) melons!

With the transition from melons to winter squash, now is a great time to highlight and express our appreciation for the great work that the folks in the southern half of the shop do. Led by Valentin, this small but mighty crew are responsible for washing, sorting, and packing some our biggest crops in terms of volume, weight, and value: melons, winter squash, potatoes, carrots, and asparagus. They also bunch and cut broccoli, wash and bag oranges, bag onions, and sort and box corn.

Depending on the season, the layout of their area changes. In spring, they have tables, scales, and knives set up for cutting asparagus and during summer and fall they have plastic and cardboard macro bins for squash and melons. You can always tell the season by the stack of boxes by the southern-most wall waiting to be filled: there are different boxes we use for sending out asparagus, melons, squash, and potatoes. Regardless of the season, there tend to be a lot of macro bins, which are great tools for moving and storing large quantities of produce.

Something else that doesn’t change is the presence and heavy use of our two washers. We have a root washer for carrots (and CSA boxes) and a fruit washer for everything else. We don’t put the asparagus, broccoli, corn, or onions through a washer, nor some of the more delicate melons, but everything else gets cleaned.

While putting items into the washer, or as they come out, this team is doing quality control to find and remove overripe melons, green potatoes, split squash, or other produce that doesn’t meet our standards. Depending on the customer, they may need to add stickers, and then they bag or box produce for CSA, market, and wholesale customers. Last week, they prepared our first mixed squash bins to send to some of our wholesale customers. They are really beautiful, and it was fun to watch as they were assembled, like mixing ingredients for trail mix or granola, with an additional layer each time I walked past.

This crew also forms the core of our CSA packing team. “La línea” (the line), the assembly-line CSA packing process, begins each afternoon in the middle of the shop next to the fruit washer. There is one person for each produce item, a person to check the boxes before closing up, and a person to stack boxes on pallets. Day to day, the crew of people packing boxes changes, but the south shop crew is almost always involved.

All this is to say, we appreciate all the work that Valentin and his crew do. The post-harvest handling and quality control that they do is just as important as our growing practices when it comes to making sure our customers and CSA members receive excellent produce. We want to get you fruits and vegetables that make you say “wow” when you take a bite. Hopefully you had more than a few “wow” melons over the course of the summer. We’ve been sampling of the winter squash varieties and there are definitely some great squash heading your way this fall and winter. Once we clean them and pack them in your boxes, that is!

– Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager