Yesterday was the autumn equinox for the Northern Hemisphere, the official beginning of fall. As the daylight hours begin to decrease our farmers are working anxiously in the fields to harvest the last of their summer crops. Over the next few weeks we’ll see tomatoes, basil and peppers alongside shelling beans, persimmons, and pumpkins as the farmers also begin to harvest their first fall crops. With daylight waning pastured egg production will slow on farms like Eatwell and Marin Sun. Autumn will also mean that many of our farmers must begin planting and planning for the winter months.
Here are some of the first signs of autumn already at the market:
Chestnuts – Last week the folks at K&J Orchards in Winters, CA harvested the first crop of this season’s chestnuts. Great in baked goods and desserts, chestnuts are also wonderful when added to savory dishes or casseroles.
Rome Beauty apples – Farmer Dan Lehrer of Flatland Flower Farm in Sebastopol is generally referred to by market shoppers as the “plant guy.” In addition to the amazing array of plant starts Dan brings to market, he also harvests his first crop of tart, crisp Rome Beauty’s every September. Though many people think of them as the perfect baking apple, I generally like to enjoy the Rome Beauty with a wedge of good cheese and not much else.
Early Winter Squash – There are still plenty of summer squash varieties at the market but the first early winter squashes have also started appearing. Thomas Family Farms, an organic farm from the Watsonville area, grow over fourteen kinds, many heirloom varieties and are now bringing small quantities of their early Delicata, Acorn and Butternut squashes to the Thursday and Saturday markets.
Warren pears – In the coming weeks Frog Hollow Farms will pick the first Warren pears of the season. The Warren variety is a personal favorite of Frog Hollow owner and farmer Al Courchesne because of its thin smooth skin and creamy texture.
Pomegranates – Twin Girls Farm came to market this week with the first of this season’s pomegranates. They will have even more in the coming weeks as the farm transitions from their summer stone fruit crop into fall and winter fruits. The sweet, tart, ruby seeds of the pomegranate are one of my favorite additions to salads, and soups.