The turn of the weather, the turning of the leaves from green to gold, the plow turning over the earth as we lay to rest summer's work and cover her in a blanket of rye for the winter. As we close out our fall harvest I'm feeling almost equal parts relief and sadness to have each chore behind me. Savoring the way the sun feels on my back, peeling off layers to absorb as much light as I can. Breathing deep the scent of the plowed earth as we dig for roots. Drinking in the colors of autumn like a fine wine to be savored. Moping when I have to spend time inside at the computer or cleaning. There are many seasons in farming in between the four main ones, like asparagus season, tree pruning, garlic planting time. Of all the many seasons of farming, the Autumn Harvest is by far the sweetest to me. Especially in years like this when summer's warmth lingers in the day only yielding to winter's whispers at night. Bright blue skies highlighting the reds of the maples. It is a time to feel grateful for all the earth has yielded.
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house."
This year I have felt especially grateful for this patch of earth. In a time when the safest place to be is outside and away from crowds, my family and I have many acres to roam and tend. Although there is much tension and stress around the pandemic, politics and other rules and regulations that seem to pepper our field of work. We are finding our way through the maze of 2020, discovering new opportunities to grow, building relationships and getting our bearings in a changing marketplace. We build resilience into our crops with diversity and rotation and we've found that this carries over into our marketing strategy as well. Changing things up and turning them over to see how we can make our way. Wholesale suffered big losses this year but retail grew in surprising ways. It's a bit like the crops, strawberries didn't produce for toffee but blackberries gave a bumper crop, go figure! It's always a gamble when you make plans with seeds, the weather, and people. If farming has taught me anything it is that you can't be too certain or too attached to outcomes. Be ready to fight but know when you're beat and know when it's time to move on.
photos by: Lisa Denardo Photography
This season, like all that preceded was a mixture of ups and downs for us at the Anthill. But all and all I believe it was a good season. The spring was difficult in many ways, Covid-19 was new and all the closings were as troubling as they were necessary. But we are proud to be deemed essential workers and felt and continue to feel grateful to provide food to the community through the many local food pantries that purchased food from local farms. Late frosts and pandemics always make for a rough start, but eventually the growing season got rolling with asparagus shooting up and by summer there were tons of sweet melons and blackberries to pick. Early September brought a good yield of Winter squash, my favorite ingredient in fall recipes! Then sweet potatoes and cabbage to store for winter.
But the pride of the farm this year is our Hemp crop. A beautiful sight to behold, a big healthy crop is a grower’s greatest pride. It certainly got the most attention, as anyone who visits would stop and gawk when they saw the hemp standing in the field. It's still a bit of a novelty to us too since growing hemp was only made legal in Pennsylvania in 2018, and this isn't exactly Humboldt County, CA. Hemp is a handsome plant, tall and bushy as a small Christmas tree, with an aroma that would make a skunk do a double take. Harvesting is a bit of a sticky affair, since it also resinous like a pine tree and your clothes do reek out it after hours of cutting and hanging. The load was made lighter by many additional hands and we’d like to give thanks to our great staff and many friends and helpers this fall! Now all harvested and hung, we begin the slow process of trimming, sorting and curing. It's exciting to be getting near the time when we can process this magical plant into healing products again. Dreaming up some new additions to our product line!
While the hemp is pretty fab, I’m a girl who is ruled by my taste buds and I think my family would agree our favorite part of the harvest season is picking our Asian pear trees! Large golden orbs laden on the branches and the breathtaking views from the top of the hill, these trees almost never disappoint. They're also a tasty treat while you're working. Sweet and crisp as the autumn breeze. Even our dog, Sagan can’t resist these things, in fact he’s a real connoisseur, rejecting the ones with rotten spots that we toss to him in favor of the perfect ones that drop by accident. We like them in a crumble topped crisp, dehydrated or juiced but our favorite way to eat them is fresh off the tree! Our Asian Pears were another success with several thousand pounds harvested this year and big beautiful fruit to fill our bellies and our market stands all winter long. Be sure to stock up! We are at the Hawley Fridays 2-5 and Honesdale Farmer's markets Saturdays 9:30-12:30 for just two more weeks! But don't worry you can find us at the Cooperage's Main Street Farmer's Market Saturdays 11-1pm starting November 7th.
I hope you've enjoyed meandering down the rows with me and savoring the sweet scenes of Autumn on our farm. Thank you for your support! We love our community and we're so proud to be able to share this year's harvest with you all.
Shout out to amazing photographer Lisa Denardo for the capturing the season so perfectly!
"The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope."
Speaking of seasons, the holidays are right around the corner! hint hint
If you love our Asian pears and want to share...We Ship! Our Asian pear gift boxes contain over 5 pounds of our premium Olympic Asian pears. Think Harry and Davids but local, organic, and small family farm owned.
Our Hemp Gift sets also make a fantastic present for anyone who gets stressed out or has aches and pains... ok thats pretty much everybody!
Be well and get out and enjoy the fall color while it lasts!