The much awaited warm weather is here, and we are busy in the fields. If the experts are right, April could be kind of a scary month with Coronavirus projected to peak about mid-month. Probably the worst danger is that sick workers aren’t allowed to pick, wash or pack vegetables according to food safety protocols. Should a large number of workers become ill, this could hinder U.S. food supply. We are doing our part to practice social distancing and are using our online ordering system now for our members. Pick-up sites are currently open at the OKC Farmers Public Market and at our farm. We are working on finding an Edmond location for a quick opening of a site there. When the local harvest is abundant this year you might think about canning or freezing to have extra food supply on hand should there be another outbreak or power outage. It will be your own emergency supply, and you won’t have to feel bad about it. Our forefathers that lived in rural areas did this every year. I remember helping my grandparents put up corn cut from the cob. They had lived through the Great Depression and never forgot about it; they spoke of it often. Nanette and I have made this a practice for most of our married life. You can put up green beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers of all kinds, sweet corn, okra, etc.. It’s a little work, and you might say it’s cheaper to buy it, but you will know what you have. The next time you see empty store shelves, you won’t get a sinking feeling inside because you will be prepared. One more thing… if you’re worried about electric outages, you could can food in canning jars. If done properly, they will last a long while, and you wouldn’t have to worry about losing a freezer full of food. That is the way it was done before electricity came around. A little extra work to be a little more self-sufficient could be well worth it.
For some weeks here at Acadian Family Farm, we have been making special emergency plans to continue operating so we can provide good, healthy vegetables to our customers. We have seed planted and more available for quite some time ahead. There are lots of plants growing in the greenhouse and a good bit planted out in the field. We are fighting to keep the farmers’ markets open in the OKC area, because our customers need access to good, fresh, local vegetables to keep their immune systems boosted (some cities in Texas have closed theirs). I am presenting a plan to the farmers markets (that we work with) that if the government wants to limit crowd size, we could also allow that many people through the market at one time. Also, that we would have every right to be open and operate the same as a grocery store.
We have our online ordering system available for the members of our farm community so you can just come in to market, pick up your bag and leave quickly. In the event that we can’t win the battle to keep the farmers’ markets open, we will try to keep the same drop-off sites available that are on this website. As long as the roads to the city are open, we plan to deliver. We have plenty of sweet potatoes in storage to hold us while we are waiting on our cool weather crops that should be ready in early April.
Seems to be some interest in food storage right now, so I wanted to mention how sweet potatoes can be stored long term. Sweet potatoes technically are considered a storage root. Their optimal storage temperature is 55 degrees, on the low side and 60 degrees on the high side. Sweet potatoes should never be allowed to fall below 55 degrees because internal damage is accumulative and will show up later. The other temperature side, over 60, will not cause damage, only sprouting. You can keep them at room temperature at 72 with no problem if you like, just watch for sprouting and break them off. Once sweet potatoes are washed their shelf life goes down. For long term storage at our farm, it’s best to leave the dirt on and wash as we ship out. If the need arises for long term food storage, our Vegetable club/CSA members could request that we leave them unwashed. These could last into the summer, depending on temperature and humidity. Our 5 lb. bag size will be convenient for this.
I’m going to give you a little professional inside knowledge here. Just like savvy people have relationships with a doctor, lawyer, banker, etc., I say you need a farmer, too. Someone you can trust to look out for your interests when it comes to the food you eat. Hopefully, if he’s a real farmer and not a fake, he will clue you in on some of these deeper farming secrets, like a relational banker would help you find good investments. If you have a health condition that doesn’t allow you to eat food sprayed with herbicides or if you just don’t out of precaution, you have a right to know the following.
I’m going to make a statement, and I want you to listen closely…”Non-GMO” alone does not equal Certified Organic, but all Certified Organic equals Non-GMO. Chances are, if it was ”organic” it would be labeled that way. Most that have the non GMO label are still sprayed with herbicides and insecticides. That label just means that non GMO seed has been used; that’s all they claim. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to eat anything grown with genetically-modified seed. That’s why genetically-modified seed is not allowed under the Certified Organic label. How do we know where the gene comes from that’s inserted to modify the seed? In the early days I read that genes from rats and pigs, etc. were being inserted. Sounds a lot like the Mary Shelly novel Frankenstein, where Dr. Frankenstein created his beast and took the work of G-d into his own hands. Much suffering ensued for him and his loved ones. I have a deep respect for nature and am in awe of what our Creator made. So I try to work with His creation.
Here’s some more inside info – the following year after a GMO crop has been planted, if a volunteer seed has fallen and sprouted, it can’t be killed by herbicides because of its inserted gene – so now there’s another problem. Dr. Frankenstein’s monster couldn’t find where he fit in, leading to the horrors in the book. What about the possibility of these genes escaping into nature and the long-term outcome? All the while we’re told how safe it is. Now we see whole billboards dedicated to the glyphosate trials. One expert says the greatest danger is the excessive amount of glyphosate that we are ingesting that is sprayed on crops and its effect on the gut. Non-GMO crops can have glyphosate sprayed on the ground to burn down weeds before they are planted. Certified Organic can’t do this. Certified Organic can never use GMO seed or glyphosate, and the soil must have been free from these substances for at least 3 years before it can be certified. So to be safe, look for the USDA Certified Organic label.
Yesterday at the farmers market, a customer asked a very relevant question about our Veggie Club/CSA. She wanted to know which kinds of vegetables we grow. The short answer would be – any vegetable that can be grown successfully in Oklahoma. Notice that I said ”successfully”. With some vegetables, we make repeated attempts with but don’t succeed. Some we have succeeded a time or two with and then had problems, like broccoli and cauliflower. Brussels Sprouts failed last year. Oklahoma weather can be very challenging for some vegetables.
BUT gratefully we have lots of vegetables that do succeed! Starting with the cool weather line-up beginning in mid-April, the following should be available until it gets too hot: Leaf lettuce heads, green onions, bok choy, cilantro, turnips, kale, radish, beets, cabbage, carrots, spinach and sweet onions. The warm weather crops are: cucumbers, squash, chard, tomatoes, green beans, cantaloupe, watermelons, sweet corn, leeks, Irish potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, hot peppers, okra, peas and sweet potatoes and a few other herbs. We usually grow 2 or 3 varieties of some veggies, too. Keep in mind that it is all seasonal. I think that eating seasonally takes the boredom out of eating right. If it only comes around once or twice a year, you are a lot more excited about seeing it. Our forefathers couldn’t have it shipped in, so they relished each new crop as it came ready. I would like to be your gardener. I tell you what’s going to be ready each week online, and you tell us what to pick for you. Sign up here