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Eat This Now: What’s In Season

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As told by Paul Martin, Sweet Land Farm CSA

September/October we’ll still have our summer crops. The summer season pretty much goes until the first frost. So, we’ll have tomatoes coming out of the greenhouses, frying peppers, eggplants, basil, summer squash, cherry tomatoes.

September is still summer weather; at the very end we’ll have lots of basil. I find a lot of people get excited about pesto because they’ve gone the whole summer and realized they haven’t canned or frozen as much stuff as they want so we try to have a nice patch of basil at the very end.

We try to make our farm like a big garden, so we have a lot of U-pick, very large raspberry pick, cherry tomatoes, basil, tomatillos, paste tomatoes, green beans, lots of herbs, lots of flowers. The nice thing about the fall here in our area is the whole idea of terroir. Terroir is specific to the area that you’re in, they talk a lot about it in wine culture. Even a farm has its own terroir. It’s everything all rolled together. For grapes, in a cold-climate region, as it gets colder, you get this nice balance of sugars and acids happening in the grapes. We have the same thing on a vegetable farm: Carrots can get really sweet here because they’re building up their sugars as our days are getting colder. We are known for really sweet carrots. But it’s not why we named the farm Sweet Land. We actually tasted the soil and thought it tasted a little sweet.

For the fall crops, a lot of the root crops, we have a really great climate to grow all those things. We start harvesting carrots as soon as they’re to size in September. We have summer carrots and fall carrots. But we generally wait as long as we can—so, like, beginning of October, when it gets cooler—to start bringing in our fall root crops. We wait ’til its cold out so that we’re not trying to chill things down when it’s still so hot outside. We have two refrigerated tractor trailers on the farm. We’ll fill all those up with onions, potatoes and carrots, beets, parsnips and celeriac.

Winter squash, delicata, will be in around September and then we’ll start harvesting our acorn squash and butternut, which goes through November. Our CSA goes to the middle of November. And then we also store the squash for part of our winter CSA.

All our greenhouses get turned into greens. In September we’ll plant spinach and kale and some lettuces and chard in the greenhouses. We actually pull out our tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers a little early, do a mass pick and then till up the ground and get things planted. Our goal is to get everything up to size by Thanksgiving, and then everything stays the same size throughout the winter.

We do a decent amount of pickling; I like to make kimchi and sauerkraut. We do a lot of pickling with radishes. But in having the winter CSA, we’ve done a lot less canning. There’s never enough time in the summer to do it because we’re always farming.

This story was featured in our Wine 2018 Issue 

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Paul Martin is the owner of Sweet Land Farm CSA in Trumansburg.

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