Frosty mornings, colder nights, and the low slide of the sun across the horizon during the day prompts every living thing on the farm to start tucking in for the winter. Several days ago, a light snowfall covered the farm, a harbinger of the deep winter months ahead. The Christmas trees and holiday greenery at the farmstand were glistening that night, the snowflakes on the branches reflecting back the light. While the farmstand is decked out for the holidays, we’re still in the farming season, still tending and harvesting crops from the fields.
For many crops, the oncoming winter means that they focus their energy on building their stores of sugar. Like bees producing honey all summer to feed the hive during the long winter, many plants produce and store sugars to stay alive during low-light days and freezing nights. Sugars not only feed the plant, they prevent it from freezing, as sugar water has a lower freezing point than pure water. These frost-sweetened crops–roots like carrots and beets, greens like spinach and kale–are at their peak right now, rich in flavor and sweetness. We still harvest them daily, once the sun warms them enough to be picked.
Our winter storage crops, like sweet potatoes, butternuts, and acorn squashes, are also genetically primed for late season flavor. When harvested, they begin their sugar building, steadily increasing for months as they stay packed in the barn away from light and moisture. Bred over hundreds of years to be dense packets of nutrition during lean winter months, they prove their worth now, when all the tomatoes, snap peas, peppers, and the other delicate summer crops have been overcome by the change of seasons.
As we scramble to stay ahead of the fast-sinking sun on chilly afternoons, we look forward to another round of holiday feasts and heaping bowls full of the bounty of the fields. Seeds that were planted as far back as May, and plants tended all through the long summer, are now filling our harvest crates, soon to be served up and devoured by family and friends, gathered to celebrate.
To add to the culinary revelry of the season, we’re baking pies and baked goodies for the holidays again–for parties, gifts, and stocking stuffers. Stop by the farmstand to order, or email us at langwaterfarm at gmail.
All of us at Langwater Farm want to thank you, our wonderful supporters and customers, for such a long and successful growing season.
Happy & Delicious Holidays to everyone!