EVERYTHING we grow on this farm is harvested by hand. Limited harvesting, for our summer program, begins in September, and some crops produce until mid-June.
Large fruiting crops such as summer squashes, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants, as well as green beans, are picked into buckets in the field and brought into the packing house on our golf carts or trailer. They are packed into boxes before being stored at the appropriate temperatures.
Freshly harvested beets
Root crops (such as beets, turnips and carrots) are pulled and bunched and usually rinsed and drained before bagging. Tops which can be eaten such as beets and turnip are left on the roots unless customers want them removed. Carrot tops are taken off.
Hard-rind winter squashes (butternut and calabaza) are brought into the barns and, if they are going to be stored, cured at a high temperature for a week or two.
The biggest harvesting operation is salad mix and other baby greens. We cut them by hand, using scissors and knives. The leaves are put into plastic containers and brought into the greenhouse where they are washed twice in large tanks, using the city tap water and an approved sanitizer. We then spin out much of the water using an electric salad spinner. The greens are bagged by weight and refrigerated immediately.
Large leaf greens such as swiss chard and spinach are usually cut the morning they will be sold. They are not washed, since washing and drying can crush the leaves. If it is necessary to keep them, they are refrigerated.
A Broccoli harvest
Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are also usually cut in the morning of the day they will go out. They are bagged before refrigerating.
Micro Mix flats
Micro greens are cut with scissors and put directly into plastic boxes or “clamshells” and refrigerated.
Most of our vegetables are packed into plastic bags and/or waxed boxes. We have coolers or refrigerators at 3 different temperatures: tomatoes are kept about 62°; eggplant, peppers, summer squashes, cucumbers, root crops without greens, watermelons, and basil are stored about 55°; and root crops with greens, all leafy greens, corn, cabbage family crops, green beans, and most herbs require temperatures just above freezing (like your home refrigerator). Hard shelled winter squashes are generally stored in covered bins outside.