Picking Up the Pace

Summer in Iowa

Summer in Iowa

LAKE MACBRIDE— Harvest season is accelerating, and there is more food available than we know what to do with. Through a complex system of work for food, gardening, barter and foraging, purchases at the grocery stores have averaged a ticket total of well under $20 consisting mainly of dairy, canned goods and sundries. It is down from an average closer to $100.

Last night we made a meal of a big salad that included lettuce, green peppers, kohlrabi, tomatoes and broccoli from our garden. The eggs came from bartering, the carrots from California, canned kidney beans from the grocery store, and everything else was part of my work for food deal at the CSA. That is, except for the dressing— balsamic vinegar of Modena (the less expensive stuff), first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. It is pretty exciting to have a salad with home grown lettuce in August, which is a result of my first attempt at sequential planting.

At the CSA, I picked half a bushel of ripe apples yesterday. On the kitchen counter a large bowl of them waits to be peeled and cut into slices for apple crisp. The apple harvest is going to be incredibly abundant this year, and will involve a lot of processing work. I am already thinking about grading the harvest into apples for hand eating, apple sauce and apple butter, juicers and livestock feed.

Likewise, with my work for food project with a second CSA, there will be an abundance of tomatoes for canning. We’ve been eating fresh tomatoes for a few weeks, and there is an abundance on the vines. We’ll be in tomato city soon.

The point in writing about this is to organize my thoughts and priorities. Without organization, the summer will be a hodgepodge of inefficiency. Too, if there is a chance to be a food broker, and leverage some of the abundance for sales, now is the time, despite being very busy. Even if a lot of other producers are thinking the same thing.

There is something about the transition of summer from celebration of Independence Day until Labor Day that is at the center of life. With the milder weather this year, cooler and wetter, we’ve had close to ideal growing conditions for home gardening. Every bit of food we can or freeze, is money in the bank. Now is the time to get this work done.

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