By Farmer Cass Fraunfielder
Farmer Cass enjoys the summer months, but this summer has been a challenge with the extreme heat. The change of the seasons is always welcomed. Many of my colleagues look forward to the warm up in the spring and summer veggies. Everyone can’t wait for that first tomato, cucumber, squash, corn, and many others. This year, our squash did well in the early summer but the heat wore them out. Usually we get three or four harvests off of the bean plants. This year we had one. Cucumbers did great until August. Our first watermelon crop was only so-so, with many cracking in the heat. Very fortunately for the farm, what thrived in the heat and usually does, is eggplant, peppers, and okra. But otherwise, it is difficult to watch plants get weak after so much tender care has been given to nurture them along. Farmer Cass always says “when you plant a seed…you are committed to a new life.”
As we leave the summer months and transition to the fall and winter, it is an opportunity for the farm. We produce many more seasonal favorites. We look forward to radishes, of which we grow tens of thousands each year, and the many other varieties of root vegetables. One of the favorite varieties of radish is the French Breakfast, which is sweet with a bit of a spicy kick. Another root vegetable we pride ourselves on is our turnips. Old school purple top turnips take up a good bit of land every year as well as hakurei, and other varieties. Carrots… to be honest it has taken several years to learn to grow a good carrot crop. And I have yet to be able to grow a good beet crop, but this year may be the year!
So as we near the fall every year, we look forward most of all to our sweet potato harvest. Farmer Cass has been nicknamed by many chefs in Atlanta as “Mr. Potatohead.” We grow thousands of pounds every year, and it has been a traditional staple of our winter revenue. The soil at Finch Creek Farm is a combination of clay, sand, quartz, and granite, which is referred to as “Loamy Soil.” The sand makes it loose so most root veggies do well. The minerals in the soil make them the sweetest of all.
In addition to the root vegetables, we always look forward to the greens. Kale… can’t say enough good stuff about kale. Then there are collards, mustard, turnip greens, cabbages, arugula, lettuces, and spinach. Can’t wait! My wife is especially excited about endless kale and collards at the house. She says they are the best she has ever eaten, so sweet and tender, and she doesn’t have to spend hours cooking them to cook the bitterness out, our usual is just a quick stir fry with garlic and onions.
As everyone knows, the farmer is at the mercy of the weather. The winter months can be as tough as the heat of the summer. Part of farming is learning the weather patterns and reading the signs in the sky and the air, and the signs of nature. Farmer Cass forecasts a harsh winter with heavy frozen precipitation, but will do our best to protect our crops with low tunnels, a high tunnel, and grow covers. And being from Wisconsin also helps!
We look forward to the change of seasons, reflect on this summer, above all thank God for the harvest given to the farm, and the one that will be given in the upcoming season, so we can continue to provide quality vegetables. From Finch Creek Farm to all of you.