112 pounds of beets grown in -5°F winter

‘It’s never windy in here’, As winter winds drive down temperatures 112 pounds of beets delivered to Case Western Reserve University this week with 50 pounds of kale to help the university meet their 25 percent food budget pledge for community-based food

By Gregory D. Jackson

Harvesting beets at Rising Harvest Farms 1_14_2016

“Although the sun came out for an hour,” farmers at Rising Harvest Farms said.  “It doesn’t matter if it’s minus 5 out and the sun is shining, it’s still cold.”

While many urban farms in Cleveland are closed at this time of year, we are harvesting beets in the middle of January, for Case Western Reserve University (CWRU).  In fact, beets are a cold-season crop usually planted around tax time, but since we have hoop-houses (above), we can grow cold-season crops through winter.

“There’s no other place I’d rather be in the middle of January than harvesting beets.”

Cold-season crops are able to reduce their freezing point depression with greater concentrations of sugar substances that reduce osmotic loss, making cold-season crops like beets nutrient-dense.  A little frost and cold stimulate the release of these beneficial sugar substances in larger concentrations, making them nutrient-dense.

The result of plant survival techniques and plant lifecycle grow nutritious food.

For example citris fruits ripen in moderate drought conditions as their response to limited water supply.

“I’m so glad that it’s not windy today.”

“It’s never a factor in here,” responded the other farmer.

Hoop-houses make winter growing conditions possible.  For instance, Hattie Larlham gardens at Old Trail School are growing kale and collard greens this winter for Cuyahoga Valley National Park farmers market and essential to the school’s edible education curriculum.

Job coaches, interns, developmental disabilities, and I planted collard greens and kale in the Hattie Old Trail School hoop-house in heated beds, an experiment to see if collard greens or kale grow better with heated soil.

Along with 112 pounds of beets harvested, Rising Harvest Farmers also harvested 50 pounds of kale for CWRU.

Bon Appetit’s purchase of Rising Harvest Farms’ beets and kale for CWRU truly are a farm-to-table sustainable food, supporting local jobs at an urban farm, even in the middle of January.  CWRU recently pledged 30 percent of their food budget to buy community-based food making it the third university in Ohio to for healthy food systems, as part of their sustainable food goals including the Real Food Challenge.

On Christmas Day the temperature was 65 degrees, and our farmer opened the hoops so the spinach would not wilt.

“It was no problem.  I live right down the street.”

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