In the third week of September each year, an equinox takes place. This is the official change of seasons between summer and fall. What does this really mean though? For seasonal eaters, it means the change between summer and fall crops. For farmers, this change takes place weeks before the equinox. Farmers have to start moving towards fall crops well ahead of the equinox.
Farmers begin planting and building up steam in late February or early March. This brings us out of the dearth in the late winter, also commonly known as the Hunger Gap. It’s pretty well known and understood that in winter its hard, if not impossible to bring crops to market. However many overlook a similar event, albeit for different reasons, six months later in August, early September.
Especially in the south east, the heat and humidity have taken their toll not only on the crops but on the farmers and distributors as well. By the close of summer, the heat is at it’s maximum, bug pressure is unrelenting, the humidity sucks the life from you as you wage war against the endless waves of dollar weed and chamber bitter that never seem to run out of effort. The stink bugs and flea beetles are working on producing next years predators in numbers that would make Covid babies look insignificant. It’s the perfect storm; Heat, humidity, bug pressure, and just being plain worn out from months of running as hard and fast as you can go.
Most farmers work other jobs off the farm to help pay the bills as well as farming. We aren’t able to sustain ourselves on crop sales alone. Thus, we work day jobs and farm by headlamp or in the twilight hours of dusk and dawn. Burn out is real. We are tired. I’m not ashamed to admit the heat breaks me. I’ve been deployed via the military in several places around the world that were “hotter” by number, but no where has been as physically degrading as the South East in August.
When you visit your local markets in July and August and wonder why there is so little to chose from, please remember, plants don’t have AC! When you ask for spinach in July and you see us get a strange look on our faces, it’s simply because we know it’s just not possible. We’re tired, we are doing the absolute best we can. But when it’s all said and done, we’ll see you at the end of September, early October with fresh crops, and rested eyes…