Uncle Vern’s Farm Fueled Musings June 15–21
Late breaking news! Ryan says he’ll have sweet corn next week, Kyle says he probably will have field tomatoes next week. How summer is that?!
The normal goal, if you do everything right, is to have those for the 4th of July—so two weeks early is frankly quite remarkable. Two weeks early is exactly where we’re tracking with our stone fruit. Flavor and quality have been excellent, so this will go down as an excellent, quirky, dry, good year that’s gonna be in the history books before long.
Quality has been so good we actually had a few packers make $1,000.00 bucks last week. I told ’em they oughta frame that check stub and wished they could earn that much every week all year. It takes a lot of good clean varieties and frankly a lot of hours to do that, but you gotta love it when a plan comes together.
Plans in stone fruit take about seven years to come together from the time you pull the trigger till it hits the target, and it’s really tough to get the target to stand still that long.
We find a new variety that fits a genre—large red-fleshed pluots are a hot item right now—and a time slot that eats well, bears consistently, and is cosmetically appealing. You don’t want another variety in the same class at the same time, but you might decide that this new one is head and shoulders above what I currently have, so I’ll invest in it as a replacement. You can see the planning challenges of “permanent” plantings, versus say tomatoes or corn.
The goal is the same when providing for the North American wholesale market; consistent flow over at least six weeks of a given type of produce. That makes it worthwhile for a given retailer to set up shelf space and ads, and for consumers to try it, like it and come back for more.
Permanent or annual, the goal is the same when providing for the North American wholesale market; consistent flow over at least six weeks of a given type of produce. That makes it worthwhile for a given retailer to set up shelf space and ads, and for consumers to try it, like it and come back for more.
So Uncle Vern, how does a small, family run organic farm with limited resources pull that off for goodness sake? Say I want to grow melons; I grow the best watermelons anywhere, but the retailers want cantaloupes and Galia and honeydews!
You’ve got two options, be really cheap or form alliances with other farmers wherein you do a great job with watermelons, and others do the remaining. Really cheap isn’t sustainable, so alliances are the only option.
I think these interdependent relationships are the highest form of human interaction and we see it everywhere there are successful endeavors. Homeschoolers will get together and say: “I’ll teach the math if you’ll do the English,” and both are better off.
You can’t go from dependent to interdependent though. Good alliances only work where all the allied are first independent but better off together and that’s what we do with our fruit packing. The dozens of independent farmers whose fruit we pack are better off together than separate.
It’s also exactly what’s happening here with AHO. Dozens of independent small organic farmers get to be really good at growing a few crops each, in concert to provide a consistent year round flow of produce to all of you, from sweet corn to field tomatoes, peaches to squash, we’re all interdependently better off together. Corn in June?