By Adam Calder, Produce Manager
The local season got off to a bit of a slow start this spring with all of the rain making it difficult for farmers to get out there and plant crops in mucky, muddy fields. We are in full swing now though, with local produce all over the place!
We’ve got: heirloom, red and gold tomatoes from Lee’s Greens; three varieties of kale, collard greens, two varieties of chard, green zucchini, yellow summer squash, cilantro, green and red cabbage, red beets, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from Flint Ridge Farm; green onions, patty-pan squash and Italian parsley from Wabi Sabi Farm; blueberry pints from The Berry Patch; assorted micro-greens from Organic Greens; loose leaf baby lettuce and broccoli sprouts from Nebullam; grape tomatoes from Salama Greenhouse; and assorted fresh herbs from Mariposa Farms.
We are still looking forward to local summer sweet corn, bell peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, raspberries and eggplant so check back often in the produce department to see when these seasonal foods arrive.
Some crops and farms have not been doing so well this season. We have only gotten one delivery of flowers from Meadowlark Flowers, our local flower farmer. The wet spring was good for vegetative growth, both that of the flowers and of the weeds unfortunately. The good folks at Meadowlark Flowers have had a hard time working through the weeds to find enough flowers to make the bright, full bouquets we have grown accustomed to over the years.
We have also not had any tomatoes yet this year from Hassevoort Farm. Our customers love the outstanding flavor of these aquaponically grown slicing and cherry tomatoes, and we sell hundreds of pounds of them every summer and fall. Hassevoort Farm is near the Iowa/Missouri border and received more rain than we did this far north in Ames. Even though Hassevoort usually can control the amount of water the tomatoes get, the excessive rain soaked into the ground around and under the greenhouses. Heavy rains normally do not effect crops grown inside greenhouses, but there was so much moisture that it saturated the soil and caused the majority of his tomatoes to burst before they could be harvested. Their yield is so low this season they are not even attending the Des Moines farmers market, which is unfortunate as they have a large following of customers at that market devoted to these tasty tomatoes.
Hassevoort also grows delicious watermelons and cantaloupe for the co-op, and we are waiting to see if he will have good yields on those crops or not. We have other sources for both of those items, so you should still see some on our shelves.
As is the case with Iowa farmers, they are cut from a tough cloth and come hell or high water, they will work, toil and till as much as they can to grow food for their community. We here at Wheatsfield Cooperative are proud to support them in their efforts, and we do so appreciate the delicious fruits and vegetables these dedicated farmers grow for us.