Devoting the Early Hours to Kale

-Erika Rumbley

As temperatures climb, the Langwater Crew loads into trucks by 7:00 a.m. for the daily harvest. 3×5 notecards with scrawled harvest numbers are tucked into the pockets of our work pants. Glove boxes are stuffed with rubber bands. Truck beds are filled with empty crates and sleepy harvesters. Folks on the crew are known for their proficiency with certain crops. Max, who later in the season will spend countless hours picking perfectly ripe red tomatoes, spends his early summer mornings in the strawberry field filling tray after tray of deep crimson berries. Newcomers to the Langwater Crew spend their first weeks being trained on the surprisingly elusive art of bunching. Bunching radishes. Bunching beets. Bunching hakurei turnips. Bunching so that each bunch is nearly identical. Bunching with ever increasing speed.

Tender greens benefit from cooler morning temperatures and so we devote the early hours to Lettuce, Arugula, Mustard, Kale… Kale is a crew favorite. Right now, kale plants are lush and full, making for quick picking. Unlike those pesky roots that must be arranged just so, a kale bunch comes easier to most novice harvesters.  Every 10- 15- 20 bunches, I pause to collect our bunches into crates. By 8:00 a.m. our first truck stacked tall with curly, lacinato, red Russian and all of kale’s cousins is ambling down the farm road for a dip in cool tubs of water before they make their way to you. Periodically throughout the morning, trucks follow the path of the first with herbs, roots and berries until we’ve harvested all of your food for the day. The vegetables are off to our farmstand, markets and restaurants. We are off to our afternoon weeding projects…