This Sunday morning, we intrepid locavores got up early after our divine late night O.N.C.E and headed out to Red Fire Farm to help with the garlic harvest. Most of the garlic for the year was ready for some swift action: harvesting, then hanging to dry.
Us and a few other intrepid CSA members showed up for the morning shift of the harvest. We first tied string at appropriate lengths for hanging garlic in the barn, and then headed out to one of the fields to get started.
Elaine, who was the event coordinator and a few other farmers/interns took us out to four rows of a variety of garlic (it was German ‘something’). This hardy variety was very easy to harvest, you simply pull the garlic plant out of the ground from its tough neck, making sure not to yank and pull the neck off the bulb.
This was good and all, but an even easier way to harvest is to use a tractor to cut into the soil a few inches below the surface, breaking up the roots and soil around the garlic heads.
Once Elaine and a few other farmers managed to get the tractor through two of the rows, harvesting garlic was a cinch: You simply picked it up-no real pulling involved- you just had to separate the garlic from the weeds.
We picked a lot of garlic! It was very easy and the tractor method made for easy work. Once we had a big enough bundle of garlic, we put them in big bins and the tractor or truck drove back and forth picking up these bales of garlic and took them back to the barn for hanging.
Our little troupe of volunteers (about eight of us) managed to harvest four rows of garlic (all of that particular variety) in the morning. We were impressed just how much we accomplished, and the farmers were really impressed (and happy) too.
Out in the fields, it was beautiful. The smell of fresh garlic, the buzzing of insects. Lovely weeds.
In looking around out there, we also spotted some melons (cantaloupe) getting big and beautiful!
We then headed back to the barn and got to see the garlic hanging, and then we all went and enjoyed a delicious potluck lunch with some fellow volunteers and farmers. We brought a wheatberry, cucumber, carrot, kohlrabi, parsley and feta salad, and enjoyed some local vegetarian goodness cooked by Ona, Red Fire Farm’s chef.
For our work on the farm, the farmers were really kind and gave us 10 heads of garlic each for our efforts, and bouquets of flowers. We were thrilled! We bulk ordered garlic last week (20 heads) and so now we have a total of 40 heads of garlic! We will dry most and they will hopefully be the majority of the garlic we should need for the year.
We also did our grocery shopping at the farmstand, and picked up a lovely loot.
We would have stayed longer with the afternoon harvest, because harvesting garlic was fun and we really like hanging out with the farmers at Red Fire Farm, but we had jamming to do for the berries we had picked on Saturday. I will post about that too, soon.
Overall, an awesome morning at Red Fire Farm. I will definitely do more volunteer harvesting/work in the future, and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested.