ARTfarm Saturday 10am-12noon

Tomato pie… Our friend’s delicious recipe coming soon in Monday’s post.

We are at the very peak of our tomato season, literally harvesting hundreds and hundreds of pounds each week. Saturday farmstand tomato fun continues with all types of tomatoes in very large quantities. We’ll have tomatoes til’ the end of the farmstand Saturday morning, and don’t be surprised if you get home and find a few extra red rascals have been slipped into your bag by the farmstand fairies!

We have: loads of fresh sweet salad mix, teen arugula and teen spicy salad mix in the cooler, romaine-lettuce-like heads, watermelon, scallions, the first of our onions, baby French radishes, carrots, hopefully a few bunches of beets, plenty of fresh herbs including dill, cilantro, parsley, Italian basil, lemon basil, Thai basil, garlic chives, beautiful baby ginger and baby turmeric, sweet papaya, all of our small peppers both hot and sweet including beautiful seasoning peppers, a few heads of broccoli, cooking greens, dandelion greens, a little bit of escarole, Thai pumpkin, butternut, Guatemala blue winter squash, and zinnia flowers. Earlybirds will get their pick of the limited supply of figs and cucumbers.

See you down the South Shore 10 AM to 12 noon. Thank you for your support!

2 Responses

  1. Your fruits and vegetables are of excellent quality and freshness. However, I want ArtFarm to open the produce stand on time because
    customers are actually in line one hour and fifteen minutes prior to open hours. –just a little constructive criticism.

    • Thank you Greg. You are correct.

      We have seen record-breaking arrival times from customers this season. Never before have people been more than half an hour ahead of our opening time. This is not something we can control.

      Along with bigger crowds than usual, we have also been experiencing a blessed bump in productivity from our soils and plants this season. While this is wonderful for the farm and for our customers, we are unfortunately understaffed this season. So we are attempting to harvest and prepare more food for more people with less staff than we have ever done before. We have continually trained and added volunteers, and hired qualified staff when available, but it is an extremely difficult balancing act to do this work and maintain our personal health. Ask any family/small farmer! You’ll probably get a similar answer.

      Throughout this season, with up to three farmstands per week, we would estimate that we have about a 93% on-time arrival rate. I would guess that’s probably better than many airlines. 😉 Whenever possible, and certainly in the off-season, we aim to open a few minutes early because we appreciate and honor the time that our customers take to make their way to us and wait patiently for us to have everything ready to open. We are painfully aware when we have opened late.

      With only one exception that comes to mind at the moment, we are typically never more than five minutes late opening, and this is usually because one of our experienced help was out. When this happens, we send up an employee close to the opening time to explain the delay and apologize.

      We have tried to point out in a number of posts, that the vast majority of our offerings, with the exception of a couple of “earlybird“ special items, will be available 40 minutes after we open. 10:40am is a very sweet time at ARTfarm in which the parking lot is mostly empty, you can walk directly into the stand and very few people will be present, and you can shop at your leisure. People who accidentally come late are always amazed by this as they fill their bags with produce. There is even time to chat with the farmers about your gardening questions, the recent weather patterns, and anything else that’s on your mind.

      With all this in mind, maybe a “behind-the-scenes“ look at what our farmstand mornings are like will help you find a meditative way to spend that hour and fifteen plus potentially the extra five minutes:

      Friday night chores usually wrap up around 11 PM.

      At 4:45 AM on Saturday morning the alarm goes off. Quality control begins: sorting the sellable tomatoes from the unsellable tomatoes and other preparation tasks go on for about an hour until the sun comes up. 6:20am: the harvesting and record keeping of all herbs, lettuce heads, greens, root vegetables, peppers, melons, cucumbers, fresh flowers and other crops begins. All crops need to be weighed, cleaned, cooled, bunched, bagged, sized, and inspected for quality at all times. It is a highly skilled, detail oriented job. Around 8am, we’ve been at work for three hours and a few more volunteers come to help. Around 9, we might see people and cars in the parking lot. Whoever is cleaning up the stand and starting to run the handcart gets an estimate on how big the crowd looks.

      Setting up the farmstand so that the produce is organized correctly and handled properly is also time consuming, but is done as late as possible prior to opening so that the food stays fresh.

      This five hour morning prep process prior to the gate opening can easily occupy six or seven people and happens at a hustling, high pressure pace which is sustained for the entire time – until we rush to the front and open the gate and say good morning. 98% of the time, the farmers have not stopped to have breakfast, and we will work until 1 PM to pack up, close and put away any unsold items and organize the post-farmstand work areas.

      This repeats 1 to 2 additional days each week. Weekday farmstands of course open at 3pm, so we often get to eat lunch around two. On the other days we do all the actual farming: seeding, preparing soil, transplanting, weeding, additional harvesting, making salad mixes, administrative management, answering questions, advertising and more.

      There is no lollygagging around and we are not unaware nor unappreciative of our customers waiting. As the old saying goes, you can have quality, quantity, speed: choose two. ARTfarm’s focus is quality. Out of the other two, quantity has been an act of nature for us this season. With sustainable organic intensive gardening, you cannot simply leave the extra vegetables to rot in the field as it will destroy the other crops.

      Thank you for waiting, and for loving our produce. We’ll see you in the morning.

      ARTfarmers

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