The Napa Farmers Market season has been passing by quickly this year, and the transition time from summer’s bounty to the fall season is just about to start.
Even though it has been warm for September, it has started to cool down at night, and the cooler nighttime temperatures trigger the summer tomatoes to slow down, and the new fall plantings start to speed up their growth.
It is always the time of the year when the farmers hope that the fall crops come in quick enough for Thanksgiving.
This year, the drought has not been talked about much, but it is definitely on the minds of farmers. This year, we applied more compost than usual, in order to boost up the soil’s capacity to hold this winter’s rainwater, which we hope we will receive in abundance. We will also be planting a cover crop in November.
Additionally, we have plans to install new soil moisture monitoring sensors to help us better understand when and how much to irrigate so we are not wasting water.
This is the time of the year when farmers evaluate what needs to be purchased for the following season and what will have to be postponed until next season. Equipment and technology that will help farmers become better stewards of the land water resources is expensive. But, we have to prioritize it, because California will always be a desert, and farming in a desert requires these adaptations.
Business decisions such as this play a big factor in how we price our products at the market, which reflect our time spent harvesting and transporting to market, but also include the costs of water, fertilizer and seed. I am always happy to talk with customers about this at the market, because more consumers should be aware of the costs behind bringing one pound of tomatoes or apples to market, and how important it is for farmers to continue to steward the land and water supply while earning a living wage and prioritizing sustainable practices.
As the fall begins this year, we are thinking about how to rejuvenate our land and ourselves after the hot summer months.
Here is a recipe for one of the earliest ripening winter squash and one of the easiest to work with in the kitchen:
2 delicata squash
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Dash salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese as garnish (optional)
Clean the delicata squash by running under warm water. With a sharp knife, cut delicata in half lengthwise. Do not peel the squash. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Cut each delicata half into 1/2 inch segments, creating moon-shaped pieces.
Arrange the pieces in a single layer in a metal baking pan and coat in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Salt gently. Try to maximize the surface area of the squash touching the pan. The browning only occurs where the squash and pan meet.
Place in oven and roast at 350 for 10 minutes. Using a spatula, flip them over.
Continue roasting, turning every 7-10 minutes until both sides of the squash pieces are golden brown and the texture is creamy, about 25-30 minutes. Add a bit of Parmesan cheese before serving.