Raising Vegetables After the Farmers Markets Are Closed
Garrick Veenstra and his farming partner still have plenty of vegetables to harvest.
"All the cool weather crops are doing great," Veenstra said. "We've had one heavy frost out here, and so it hasn't even killed off the crops."
Just because the farmers markets are finished for the year, that doesn't mean their business shuts down.
"We sell locally to the stores and some restaurants in town," Veenstra said. "Every year we sell into the first week of December, sometimes even later."
Some of the vegetables are even better this time of year.
"As a mechanism to react to the cold, the starches start to turn sugary," Veenstra said. "They always taste good in the fall, but this year the carrots--especially the carrots--taste incredible. They're just sweet, crisp and juicy. They're great."
They also raise six different varieties of sweet potatoes, but those have been done for a while.
"As soon as you get your first frost, the very first frost, you cut the tops of the sweet potato plants," Veenstra said. "And in days, they've gotta come out of the ground."
There is a good reason they are associated with holidays in the fall and winter.
"Great storage crop, a root crop that you can have all throughout the winter," Veenstra said. "Just given the right conditions, it stores well throughout the winter."
As the crop season is starting to wind down, they're actually starting to plant quite a few things in these fields. But it's not something that they're going to be harvesting next year.
"We do a three-year-on, three-year-off rotation here at the farm," Veenstra said. "So everything that we have growing out here in the field has been growing for three years, and we're going to put in a pasture mix, just of legumes and grasses."
The sheep can graze on that for the next three years to help the ground recharge and rebuild organic matter. And everybody can use a rest after this growing season.
"It was a challenging year, yeah," Veenstra said. "Irrigated as much as we could, depending on how our circumstances were, and kept planting, kept harvesting. Whatever was there, we brought in."
Now it's time to look forward to the fields they'll be planting next year.
"Hopefully not going through the same challenges," Veenstra said. "Finally seeing some rains here the last couple of months, starting to rebuild some of the water supply, so just looking forward to next year."
In Sangamon County, Mike Brooks, ABC NewsChannel 20.