Late Summer Brings Sweetcorn Stands, Produce Picking and Fall Preparations


From tending and picking fresh produce to CSA deliveries, community events, farmers’ markets, preparing for fall, summer keeps us busy.   

My typical summer day begins a little before 8 a.m. In July, some of the first morning tasks include picking from our 12 acres of fresh sweetcorn for our farm stand and fulfilling wholesale purchases for our customers who may be canning or freezing produce. Our crew and I then move on to gather fresh produce for area restaurants.

     

While we’re assembling orders, our drivers head out early to begin delivering CSA orders — on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays — and delivering firewood to area restaurants that serve wood-fired pizza and hickory-smoked barbecue. Permanently on the to-do list is ensuring that our firewood stock doesn’t dwindle. We also make time to clear the grain bins to save space for our row crops.

Fulfilling and delivering our produce orders isn’t possible without early preparation. We plan months in advance to make sure the correct varieties of produce are ready to harvest throughout the season. We stagger some of our produce crops based on our customers’ needs. If one of our restaurant clients wants a specific kind of ingredient on a consistent basis — such as green beans, radishes, beets or peas — we start germinating seeds in our greenhouses every two or three weeks. The seedlings are later planted in the garden.

We also have to make sure we have an exceptional variety of produce each week for our CSA members, with late July and August supplying raspberries, lettuce, green beans, melons and more. Some fruits and vegetables are a bit more forgiving in their harvest times. Other produce has to be picked on a strict schedule — every two or three days — so they don’t grow too large. Giant-sized cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers may make for a great photo or county fair entry, but they’re not as functional as regular-sized veggies. We have a great staff that does an excellent job of harvesting on time. Fresh produce and eggs are also bundled up for the Downtown Cedar Rapids Farmers’ Market every other Saturday.

Eastern Iowa is just a few fallen leaves away from fall. We’ve got 33 acres of pumpkins and squash that we’re tending for the fall season, in addition to our corn maze. In the spring, we fired up the lawn mower and whacked the corn while it was still short. As we bale hay each week throughout the summer, we’ll set some of the round bales in place for our hay bale maze, as well. The other hay bales are stored for winter so our cattle have plenty of food.                                                        

Most of the time, the area around the farm is mowed and weed-whacked, flower beds are weeded and daily messes are cleaned up. But we kick the organization process up a notch in August to prepare for the thousands of visitors we receive during late September and October. Our employees in the shop are also planning for the seasonal items, local goods and décor we’ll sell throughout those months. 

Late summer is a busy time, but there’s no better way to unwind than by biting into a BLT sandwich with fresh heirloom tomatoes or watermelon picked that morning to eat during lunch. 

We look forward to seeing everyone out at the farm this fall!

-Matt Kroul


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