February 2017 Produce Parable
By Adam Calder

Lees Greens GreenhouseAs surely as the seasons roll by, the first little signs of spring have begun to peer from behind the veil of winter in the produce department.

The welcome burst of color that the fair trade roses brings us every Valentine’s Day was also accompanied by some beautiful potted spring plants from Salama Greenhouse in Boone, IA.  The sunny yellow daffodils, pretty purple tulips and the heady aroma from the pink and purple hyacinths made for a great floral display, and the local flower season hasn’t even begun yet!

Our racks of seed packets from Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, IA have also made their annual appearance.  Many of your old favorites were available again this year in the Seed Savers catalog, and as always there are a few new seed varieties sprinkled in the mix to keep things interesting.

Lee’s Greens has been providing us with fresh greenhouse baby greens off and on during the winter months.  Lee’s production depends heavily on the amount of sunlight the greens get, and on cloudy or overcast days the greens just don’t grow very fast.  When you stretch one cloudy, gloomy day out into two weeks’ worth of grey skies, the greens growth rate slows to a crawl.  As we move closer and closer to spring, and the days get a little bit sunnier day by day, the greens will start to thrive in the chilly, sunny weather.

I’ve been meeting with our local produce farmers to talk about the previous growing season and also to discuss the upcoming local season.  We go over what worked well and what could work better from both Wheatsfield’s end and also on the farm.  During our conversations we decide which farms will grow particular produce items, how much they plan on growing and how much Wheatsfield anticipates we will need for each item.  These meetings are a great way for me to get on the same page with our local farmers, and for them to get a feel for what the wants of the cooperative community are.

As we move through the next couple of months, more spring time favorites such as rhubarb, sweet white turnips, radishes, snow peas, and asparagus will make an appearance in the produce department.  Even though it has been a mild winter, the produce department is still eager for the fresh, local produce to start rolling in and we hope you are too!