The fields are buzzing with activity at this time of year. We are picking many of our crops each day. Right now we are picking wagons of sweet corn, bins of broccoli and cauliflower, bushels of cucumbers, beans, peppers, eggplants, and onions and baskets of tomatoes and don’t forget our flats of our ever bearing raspberries and strawberries. This means many trips back and forth from the fields to the pack house, were we wash and store the food for the next days market. All of our crops are hand picked; this means hand selecting each fruit, to ensure only the best makes it into the baskets. Hand picking also means less damage to the plant and the food for harvest.
Each crop is picked very different, and requires different tools and techniques This also means the pickers have to now how to tell when each different crop is ready, because not every fruit or veggie is ready at the same time.
Beans is a tedious job, where you are kneeling in the rows, picking each bean by hand. It takes a lot of little beans to fill a bushel. The cucumbers and eggplants have spines and require gloves. While onions have to carefully be pulled from close to the ground, to make sure you get the onion bulb along with the green leaves.
Picking sweet corn, broccoli and cauliflower are two of my favorite jobs. Sweet corn we pick in the morning, usually when the dew is still on. We walk through the wet rows of giant corn stalks, feeling the cobs. If the cob is full at the tip, rounded not thin and pointy, the cob is ready. This is also the best way to choose your corn at market, because stripping the corn before you are ready to eat it starts to dry it out.
We way we harvest broccoli and cauliflower is one person is in the row, cutting the broccoli or cauliflower off the stalk with a large, sharp knife, and then you toss it to the person on the wagon who catches it and places it in the bin. The bins have to be carefully packed to avoid bruising.
Picking is a long and seemingly endless job, because we have so many different crops. But the variety of picking jobs is really what makes the job enjoyable for the pickers. After an hour or two they will be doing a totally different job, using knew tools and muscles, in a new position, so it makes the days fly by. Variety is the spice of Life!!