By Adam Calder, Produce Manager
This time of year is a great one for local produce. We are still rolling in the bounty of summer produce, and the autumn produce is also starting to come on strong. The best of these two seasons only overlap for about a month, so now is a good time to come in and take advantage of this double deal of produce seasonality. This time of year is a great one for local produce. We are still rolling in the bounty of summer produce, and the autumn produce is also starting to come on strong. The best of these two seasons only overlap for about a month, so now is a good time to come in and take advantage of this double deal of produce seasonality.
The Iowa apple crop is coming on early and looks to be a good year for yield. A late cold snap in the spring of 2016 caused many of the apple blossoms to fall off of the trees. That meant there weren’t very many local apples to go around last year. This year, with no such cold snap, the trees have two years’ worth of energy stored up and are earnestly turning that energy into bushel after bushel of apples.
The warm days and cold nights are causing the tomatoes to ripen at a break-neck speed, and the long hours of sunlight are filling the tomatoes with flavor and sweetness. You just can’t get a tasty tomato like these Iowa grown ones if you ship it too far or for too long, so our tomatoes are delivered freshly picked several times a week to insure maximum quality.
Last year we had no local melons to speak of, this year the watermelons and cantaloupes are rolling into the co-op by the bin-full. A couple of months ago I mentioned the crimson sweet watermelon developed at Iowa State University. This year is the 50th anniversary of the horticultural research farm where the crimson sweet was developed, and we recently got in our first shipment of these historic fruits. They are firm, sweet, juicy and crisp, and a perfect accompaniment for these dwindling days of summer.
Local sweet corn has been available sporadically this month. This is because our local sweet corn farmers plant a variety of sweet corn cultivars and also stagger their plantings. When they farm this way, they have a steady supply of corn all season instead of a couple of acres worth of sweet corn maturing all at the same time. Despite the farmer’s best efforts, the corn insists on growing in its own time and in its own way. This means the corn may take a few days longer to ripen than the farmer had anticipated when he planted, and we might have to go without corn for a few days until more can be picked and delivered. Yields may also be adversely effected by the wind, rain and pests.
The summertime beets, zucchini, eggplant and cucumbers are still going strong and the autumn produce is just starting to make an appearance as well. Onions, potatoes, acorn squash, carnival squash and spaghetti squash are all available right now, and it all is all grown with the attention and care that you’ve come to expect from the kind of produce we sell at Wheatsfield.
So if you are looking for a cool, refreshing summer time salad or crisp stir-fry or if you are in the mood for a slow cooked savory dish made with local produce ingredients, we have got you covered.