Why (and how) do we continue to deliver vegetables and sell at the Farmer Market through the winter? When Sarah and I first started farming, one of our goals was to provide healthy food for our community throughout the year. We had several reasons for this. First off, people eat 365 days a year, and we think they should have local options year-round. Secondly, it helps us balance our workload. We harvest, sell, seed, and transplant 50 weeks a year. That means that rather than working insanely long hours in the summer and having nothing to do in the winter, our workload is moderated by growing in the winter. It allows us to grow a bit less in the summer, reducing our summer workload, but also allows us to stay busy through the cold months, while still allowing some flexibility to take time off. Finally, producing year-round makes best use of our resources; our high tunnels and greenhouses are in use year-round, meaning they are always earning money, producing food, and providing a pleasant work environment. If we didn’t use them all four seasons, they would be underutilized. So how do we keep our community supplied with produce year-round? Through a combination of covering hardy crops like kale and spinach, turnips and beets in the field with low tunnels, growing some crops in un-heated high tunnels like early cucumbers and squash, chard and carrots, and using greenhouses, either wood-heated or passive solar, to grow head lettuce, herbs, and other cool but not cold tolerant crops… Additionally, it involves storing crops like beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, garlic, and bulb onions in our coolers. Using these strategies, we are able to fill CSA boxes with a fabulous variety of greens, roots, and squash. Most weeks we have enough excess to go to farmers market as well, where we are one of the few vendors who sell through the winter.
All in all, we find winter growing and selling to be a rewarding endeavor. We regularly host field days to share our techniques with other growers, in the hopes that one day most people in Springfield will be able to eat a head of lettuce, or a spinach salad, or a bundle of carrots, which was raised right here in the Ozarks, regardless of the time of year.