Potato Harvest: CSA Summer ’14 ” Week #16
Most days on the farm, we are a pretty decentralized crew. Yesterday afternoon I was in the office. Mike was tilling in the broccoli and squash beds. Kai was prepping the hoop house. The rest of the crew was harvesting peppers.
Potato harvesting is different. Centralized. And its centralized nature can lead to a pretty enjoyable team task.
We use an over-sized potato harvester that we’ve retro-fitted to our scale to do the hard work of digging the potatoes from the ground. It’s a monster of a machine, whose end function is to drop loose dirt and potatoes on top of the soil. So instead of each of us using digging forks to unearth the tubers, we simply get to pick-up potatoes laying on the bed.
There’s a little work involved…. we use our hands to knock of the dirt clumps on the tubers and run our hands through the top layer of loosened soil to make sure we have them all. Other than that it’s just knees in the ground and the occasional lifting of a full crate ~ 40 pounds.
We all work together on a bed, usually 6 – 10 of us. We each work to fill a crate and kind of relay around each other to the next open spot. You don’t move too far to fill one crate, so the result is that we are all working in close proximity to each other.
Not many farm tasks are like this… where we work in a big group and are covering ground at a relatively slow pace. That’s one of the things that makes this task so special; we can talk to each other as a group, leisurely.
The conversations go all over; the latest concert someone saw, a new restaurant, ways other farms perform the same task; parenting; politics; t.v. shows; current events, random comments on the natural sounds and creatures around us… It runs the gamut. It’s the closest to adult bar conversation one can get while working on a farm. As long as the hands are moving, anything goes.
Comments on funny looking potatoes abound. A favorite joke inspired by a recently harvest potato: Q:What do you call a potato shaped like a uterus? A: A fallopian tuber. Perhaps this is a joke one can only appreciate after hours of harvesting potatoes…
Another really enjoyable part about potato harvesting is getting to run your hands
through the soil. Not only does it feel good, but it allows you to commune with the worms, toads, and other creatures who call that soil home. Toads are a favorite find. Sometimes we find baby mice… other times cool insects. Like today we saw a squash bug that had colorings none of us have seen before… yellow legs with a pink diamond back. Show and telling our finds is extra fun, again, because we are so near one another.
We are probably about 3/4 through our potato harvest at this point. By the end, we’ll all be pretty sick of harvesting potatoes. But for now, with this dreamy 70s weather, the potato harvest still feels pretty great.
Cassie, Mike, and crew
In the Box:
- Anaheim Peppers
- Bell Pepper, Yellow or Red
- Carmen Peppers
- Head Lettuce
- Potatoes, Yellow
- Yellow Onion
- Delicata Squash
- Sweet Dumpling Squash
- Kale, Green Curly
Summer Week #16: Wednesday, September 24th” Group B EOs