I wanted to explain our decision making. We spent the entire week prepping for the market--getting vegetables ready, harvesting, ordering, tallying. On Friday, we checked the weather forecast and began thinking about decreasing what we'd bring because of the cold temperatures. Jim, Shirley and Pearl talked about it more, and Jim decided to investigate the ramifications of cancelling. Would we lose anything by cancelling our bread orders? The baked goods? The coffee orders? What about the produce from the cooperative?
We were able to cancel the bread orders without a loss, and decided to send the baked goods to our market at the FRESHFARM Dupont Circle Market. Much of what we send to market this year are storage crops anyway, so they would hold fine for a week. So we made the decision to cancel.
The quality of our produce is our priority, year-round. The winter season is no different. The winter, with snow, ice, and freezing rain, and cold temperatures, presents special difficulties. Most of the time, we can adapt and come to market no matter what. Maybe we will have to leave the farm a little earlier to account for slick roads. Maybe we will get home late. Maybe we will be late, because a truck won't start (we plug in the trucks to make sure the batteries keep warm enough to start). Maybe at the start of market, we will be slow to put out greens, or we'll keep them under a tablecloth. We'll bring a snow shovel and salt to melt the ice.
We want to be at market, every week. But sometimes, it's just too extreme. And Saturday was one of those days.
The biggest reason we decided to cancel was because those cold temperatures damage the crops. Delicate items, like the hydroponic lettuce and the greens from the coop, would get fried in those temps. But even hardier vegetables like beets will freeze. We can't guarantee the quality of the item after it's been frozen. And it's not as though those items would freeze upon arrival at market. They spend the long ride down to DC in the truck, and while it is somewhat insulated, it's not enough to keep the produce above freezing in those extreme lows (while driving down the highway no less).
We saw this on Sunday, in fact. Upon arrival to Dupont, we realized that our precious butterhead lettuce had frozen on the ride down. Fortunately, we had blankets and a heater at our disposal, and were able to slowly bring the lettuces back up to temperature. We examined the lettuce before selling to ensure quality and were able to sell them. But sometimes we are not so fortunate. We saw that some parsley froze on Sunday as well, and we had to dispose of some of it due to damage.
We do not anticipate missing any more markets this season, and hope the weather cooperates! We will be at both Saturday and Sunday markets as usual this coming weekend, and hope to see all of our regular customers there. We know that it is cold, and our selection is not as bright and colorful as it is in the growing season, but we still have loads of beautiful produce!