We are now fairly certain as to what crops we will be growing in 2021, but there are still details to work out - aren't there always? The general rule for us in 2021 is that we must simplify our crops significantly if we hope to continue growing, doing our off-farm jobs AND raising poultry. So, without further ado - here's a quick run down on the plan as it stands at this moment in time.
Assuming the contracts come through for us, we are planning on growing out certain crops for seed that will go to Seed Savers. The combination of our experience growing many of their varieties and our organic certification makes this a logical step if we wish to continue to grow vegetable crops.
At present, it looks like we will be growing out Black Valentine green beans, Napoleon Sweet bell peppers and we may also grow out Amish melons (cantaloupe).
Essentially, that means we will have more row feet of one variety of these crops rather than the wide array we have grown in prior years. This makes it easier for us to manage with fewer labor hours - a key factor in our decision making. In particular, the harvest becomes concentrated to one event rather than the continuous harvest, clean, pack, deliver cycle that takes a great deal of time.
Other Crops in Bulk
There will be some other crops as well that we will target either for bulk sales, canning/freezing specials for individuals or bulk donations to local food banks. Some of these were selected because we have a very good history with them, others because they only have a single point of harvest and some because it will help us keep tabs on how we convert our farm to new systems of growing that will hopefully be sustainable with the new labor hours limits we have.
The order for the Red Adirondack and Blue Adirondack potatoes is already in - so we'll have a decent sized crop there. There will be Waltham Butternuts and there will be Touchstone Gold beets. We expect to grow onions as well... and there is garlic in the ground already. And lettuce is something we are quite good at and we will likely grow a fair amount of it. There will be tomatoes in the high tunnels.
Asparagus is a perennial crop, so that will not go away either.
To put it in perspective, in the past, when we would just grow a "little bit of something" it would take at least 50 row feet - and usually more. Even now, there will be a definite difference between our "little bit" and what a personal gardener might say is a "little bit."
And The Rest
Our high tunnels and some of the smaller crop space will have more diversity - in part because we want to eat veggies! It is likely we will have excess of these things, but we will not be growing them with the intent of maintaining sales other than when convenient. Again, excess could just go to a food bank if that's what works best.
There will be green beans and peas, of course, because we love them both. There will probably be some cucumbers and zucchini and there will certainly be spinach. The list here is certainly much more fluid and subject to change. But, that planning is what January is for! We'll grow broccoli, romanesco and cauliflower, but it will be nothing like prior years when we would put in successions of 400 broccoli plants at a time. Perhaps that would change if we got a contract to grow that many for someone - because we are good at broccoli - but there is none forthcoming, so that's where it stands.
This has been a bit difficult because we know we need to say goodbye to a number of vegetable varieties that have served us well for years. We won't be growing Thelma Sanders Acorn Squash, for example. And there will be no eggplant at all on the farm next year. We will focus on a subset of our normal heirloom tomato varieties and we will likely let varieties such as Red Zebra and Green Zebra go. There won't be turnips and very little kale and we will likely limit our carrots to one "little bit" planting.
Starter Plants 2021
That said, we are willing to start extra plants for those who talk to us ahead of time. We will not be growing out a whole bunch of extras in hopes of sales. Instead, we will only grow plants out for people who specifically request that we do so. So, if you have a request, let us know.
Here's to 2021 - and a new growing season.