The calm before the (tomato) storm by Julie Eden

July 15, 2010

Recently, I’ve been slowing down a lot every time I drive by one of the threeno four — wait no… let me think a second… SEVEN — different patches where we’re growing tomatoes on the farm. For the last week or so I’ve begun to see little glimmers of red among the leaves. I’ve peeked into the cherry tomatoes a few times and spotted one or two ripe tangerine-colored Sun Sugar tomatoes, which may well be my favorite food in the whole world.

We’ve been picking tomatoes from our hoop house for the last two or three weeks and it’s now pretty loaded, serving as a great sneak preview of what’s to come. Yesterday we even picked about six baskets (in other words, no more than some spare change) of the first heirlooms from the field to sell at our roadside stand. But most of the tomatoes we have are still green and growing.

It’s my first year working at PVF, but everyone who was around last year has repeatedly warned me that I haven’t really experienced this farm until tomato season is it full swing. They tell me we’ll spend entire days doing nothing but picking tomatoes. They tell me we’ll have two or three extra people working at market, just to keep the tomatoes “under control”. They talk of eating four or five tomatoes whole, over the course of an afternoon. Given all the pretext, and the massive quantities of green tomatoes bulging in the fields, I can feel it coming. It feels just like when we felt the pressure drop and saw the rain clouds finally coming in from the west last Friday evening, just before the sky opened up for the first time in about two weeks.

For now, things are pretty calm. We have lots of food, but nothing that’s overwhelming us. Spring crops like kale, peas and spinach are completely over. We are just finishing harvesting one last planting of lettuce. Our first planting of summer squash and cucumbers has passed it’s peak and the second one is just starting to kick in. We are continuing to harvest a steady flow of okra, beets and chard. Eggplants and peppers are starting to pick up in abundance. We’ve also begun digging potatoes and will soon finish harvesting all our alliums (onions, shallots, and garlic).

Almost all our summer crops are in, with the only major exception being our tomatoes.

Even with our full-fledged CSA starting last week, everything seems to be under control. We’ve done a few more tomato stringings this week, and this afternoon three of us actually had time to weed the celery and celeriac. Things are calm enough right now that we’ve got a pretty comfortable routine. We’re just bracing ourselves in anticipation of the tomato bonanza that’s about to begin.

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