Harvest's Lull at Winter's Eve

12/20/2010 09:51 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Friday: 6:30 AM finds me with Dean in the car for a visit to Katchkie Farm to meet with Farmer Bob and spend some time in the snow-covered fields. As cold as it is in the city, it was nothing compared to the 10-degree temperature in Kinderhook. The fields are covered with snow and like a still life, there are vegetables frozen in time.



In the greenhouses, shades of green - assorted lettuces, braising greens and spinach fill the two in ground structures. The 'nursery' greenhouse is in full production with micro-greens of all shades. The structures are the fruit of Bob's tireless labor. From conceptualization in 06; to construction in 07 and completion in 08; to greenhouse table creation/installation in 09; to the installation of the radiant heat apparatus this year, it has been more than a mere labor of love. It has meant that the day never ends because the work is never done. Bob has poured hours of thinking and days, weeks, of hard work into the heating systems that support growth during the dead of winter.



I love the workshop. It is filled with gizmos and gadgets that need to be used with precision. And of course, everything has its place. I couldn't even guess the names of half the items spread out over table, in boxes and on the shelves. Maybe Santa's workshop looks like this.



Saturday: 10 AM at the Union Square Market for the final Saturday greenmarket until after the New Year. Don't worry; it will be open weekdays. Root vegetables dominate in a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes.



Holiday shoppers join the crowd but it is markedly thinner as the selections dwindle. It takes a lot to switch to winter shopping mode; the Locavore's Dilemma - finding love and satisfaction with winter's bounty. It takes a little while to adjust from the kaleidoscope of colors and possibilities to the somber selections offered by a shrinking group of growers. I overhear one farmer talk about his plans for a long ski trip. A few farewell signs are posted. Fair season vegetables exit - and new stars take their place. We will shortly rejoice in the cheese, fish, meats, breads, storage veggies and apples as well as treats from the greenhouses. Expectations change and I think it ultimately makes us better for the longing, discipline, discovery and appreciation of our farmers and the earth. We all need to rest; we all need to embrace the gifts at hand.


Sunday: 11 AM opening bells ring at the final New Amsterdam Market of the year. The atmosphere is celebratory and its cold out, but unlike last year's grand finale, there is no snow (boo!). Today we are featuring our fabulous GP latkes in their finale reprise of the season. And, in addition to the traditional accompaniment of sour cream and applesauce, they are topped with Katchkie Farm Tomato Jam (which BTW also goes exquisitely with Christmas Day ham and turkey). We sell out by 2:30, reinforcing the adage Jewish mothers have been saying for millennium: "You can never fry too many latke".




Between now and January, I am done with markets and trips to the farm. I have been looking back at the year, trying to winnow down my favorite tomato photos from 50 to 5. There are so many beautiful moments at the farm - the fields, sky, flowers, bugs, the pond, parties, meals, mud and friends - or in the city or upstate markets - the faces, colors, magic - that I can almost accept the change of pace and the starkness of the new season. There is a lot of work to be done in 16 weeks. We need to think about what to plant next year, what new products we might want to create and how to improve our business. It has been a good season and for that, I am satisfied and very grateful.