While plenty of people dread this time of year, it is very special for many of us. The constant, unforgiving to-do lists of spring and summer wane into more manageable projects that we can check off our lists. The fields start to show signs of rest while the days shorten and nights cool. And, if the summer has treated us well, we have bountiful harvests curing and drying in every nook and cranny of our barns and greenhouses, and maybe even our own kitchens.
For me, autumn always seems to reveal an ancient, squirrel-like need to stock up for winter. Herbs? Dry them and get them stashed into bottles (only to be pulled out immediately every time I cook). Apples? I see endless cans of applesauce and apple butter just waiting to be made on a cool morning that I do not mind having the stove on for hours. Potatoes, onions, garlic, squash? Clear out that space in the pantry and tuck them in for a long winter nap. Kale? Enjoy it while it lasts because, as much as I’ve had it this season, I know I’ll be missing it by the time spring rolls around!
As a farmer, it’s tempting to just “call it quits” in October; let folks enjoy the fall bounty from September, and simply settle into the quieter rhythms of winter as soon as Mother Nature gives us a few good frosts. But what is even more rewarding is further sharing that autumn bounty with you all in these “border months” of fall and winter. Greenhouses extend the precious season of fresh greens even while temperatures drop and other growth in the fields stop. Bulk bins of squashes and onions and potatoes are tucked in, waiting to be enjoyed by a bunch of hungry families. Carrots and other roots enjoy a frost and then get scooped up at their sweetest moment, stashed in walk-in coolers awaiting the dwindling vegetable drawers in everyone’s home.