Farmers’ Markets: Past, Present, Future Part II – From Farm to Table

Happy National Farmers’ Market Week! In honor of the week, here’s my second post from the series, “Farmer Markets: Past, Present, Future“.

Back in July, news editor Gwen Guerke shared my Facebook post in the Milford Chronicle, in which I thanked our Riverwalk Farmer’s Market customers for supporting LWP in the 100 degree heat on July 7. I also shared that we sold out of 2500 ears of corn by 11:30 am. Since then, many customers have commented to me, “Did you really sell 2500 ears?” Yes, we did. But this is normal. We always pick approximately 60 baskets (42 ears each=2520 total ears) for the market each Saturday. It usually lasts until noon time, sometimes 12:30. What was abnormal was the fact that we sold all 60 baskets by 11 am that day, which was most likely because of the heat. Many of our customers choose to beat the heat by coming early, as we open around 9 am. The past couple Saturdays have been this way, as the heat and humidity in DE has not let up. I usually have time to clean up, consolidate baskets, and talk to customers but not when everyone comes out at once!

You may think, “What’s the problem? Isn’t selling out the goal?” It is and I’m not complaining. But Gwen hit the nail on the head with her next statement in the column. She wrote, “Think about this though: before the market opens at 9am Saturday, someone had to go out in the fields and harvest each and every ear. A lot of time and effort goes into the “Farm to Table” concept, so when you’re buying fresh and local fruits and vegetables take the time to thank the people who put in the work to make it happen.”  She’s right. More recently, many customers have been asking me if we picked the corn that morning. I tell them the truth, which is we usually have to pick some the night before and the rest in the morning. Why? Because even though we start picking corn at 5:30 am on Saturday mornings, we can’t get it all picked and packed by 8am, which is when we have to leave to get to Milford. Who’s the we? It’s usually Farmer Dan (my Dad), Breck (my brother), Uncle Doug, and Melissa Baker (a long-time, dedicated employee) and myself. We typically can pick one full basket every 10 minutes, which is about 6 baskets an hour. Therefore, 5 people picking corn can accomplish approximately 60 baskets in 2 hours but keep in mind we have to pick enough to keep our home retail stand going, too, as well the Western Sussex (Seaford) market and other wholesale orders. Additionally, it’s wet, so we wear rain suits to stay dry. There is usually minimal air movement as well, although it’s very peaceful. Here’s a You Tube video to give you an idea of what it’s like in the corn field: http://youtu.be/JknGLcKtGZU. At the beginning, you’ll see Dad actually husk an ear and taste it. He loves to do this and it’s his way of ensuring the planting is good. And here are some pics to share from the corn field:

Love this picture because it shows how much Uncle Doug has to bend over to pick sweet corn. But it also shows how much animals love him. Here Pansy is waiting for him to feed her an ear of corn, too.  :)

Here Melissa is throwing a full basket on the corn wagon. It helps that she’s a lot taller than the wagon (unlike me!). :)

Any volunteers to help us pick this Saturday? If so, see you at LWP around 5:30 am. Otherwise, we’ll just see you at 9 am, with 60 baskets already grown, picked, packed, and delivered straight to you, the consumer, at the Riverwalk Farmers Market! Oh yea–and thanks to Gwen, for understanding and shining light on exactly what is “Farm to Table”!

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