Summer Produce Begins

By Adam Calder, Wheatsfield Co-op Produce Manager

The month of June has been an exciting one in the Wheatsfield Cooperative produce department! The local produce has been rolling in steadily since the beginning of the month, and shows no signs of slowing. In fact, due to the recent Covid related market disruptions, there is an abundance of local produce on the market that was originally intended for restaurants. We are doing our best in the produce department to order, stock and feature as much local produce as we can procure.

We had a brief flirtation with some Iowa strawberries from Hassevoort Farm in Leon. Alas, the weather got too hot and dry and the berry production slowed down significantly. All hope is not lost, as we have yet to hear from The Berry Patch in Nevada. They usually have some strawberries available starting the last week of June or the first week of July, and we will bring in as many as they have to sell as soon as we get word the berries are ripe.

The local greens are of exceptionally high quality this season. The bunches of winterbor kale, lacinato kale, red kale, collards, Swiss chard and rainbow chard have all been bursting with crunchy, flavorful leaves. The zucchini has a slight sheen to the skin that you only see when it’s just picked off the vine, and a beautiful mottled green pattern reminiscent of the sun and shadow dappled floor of a lush summer garden. The piquant smell of the cilantro bunches fill the produce department when we stock them, drawing in curious customers trying to find the source of the arresting aroma.

We are up to our ears in oyster mushrooms from Joygrow. If you are curious to try a locally grown oyster mushroom, then these convenient packages of mushrooms contain are perfect. They are just the right size to add them to meals or recipes, and if you don’t use them up the package re-closes and helps extend the shelf life of these earthy delicacies.

The heirloom tomatoes from Lee’s Greens have been out of this world! Their flavor is unmatched, and they come in a delightful array of shapes, sizes, colors and varieties. They bring a splash of color and form to the dinner table, and truly are a perfect example of the beauty and diversity that is life’s rich pageant.

Salama Greenhouse in Boone has been delivering us weekly orders with two hundred pounds of red slicing tomatoes, and fifty to one hundred pints of his popular Lil’ Joey grape tomatoes. You almost feel the hot summer sun radiating out from these bright red beauties. When you stand next to them, and inhale deeply, you’d swear you were standing in the middle of a tomato bed.

Sadly, we must say goodbye for the year to the local asparagus from Iowa Asparagus LLC. They grew and picked eight thousand pounds of asparagus this spring. That is an incredible feat, and I was told by the farmer that it was harvested by hand by just four people!

Stay tuned for more local update. You might not be able to count on much in these tumultuous times, but you can count on your local cooperative produce department to continue to be here to serve our community.