Updated: Mar 24, 2021
We checked in with Alana at Northstar Organics to find out what harvesting carrots in the winter is like behind-the-scenes. Watch the video or read the blog post below to find out!
First up in our pricing series, we learn form Alana about the work and losses that go into the winter crops you find on your table.
Behind the carrots you may find in your produce boxes or at stores is over six months of growing, and a 50% loss on the crop.
In this video, we see Alana begin by loosening the earth with a pitchfork. She then kneels to start sorting through carrots. More than half of the carrots have to be discarded. Why? Moles love the carrot beds as places to spend their winters. The tarps provide protection from predators like birds of prey, a little bit of warmth, and the veggie beds make for great dirt to build lots of tunnels and find snacks in.
Sometimes the Moles eat the tops of the carrots, sometimes the bottoms, but usually they take a bite (or two) out of the carrot and leave the rest behind. This means that in order to harves 100 lbs of carrots, Alana has to sort through 200lbs.
Behind the carrots in your produce boxes or at your local grocery store, is over six months of growing, and a 50% loss on the crop. We find out that as much as half the winter crop is lost due to moles munching (taking one bite out of a perfectly good carrot). Moles love carrot beds in the winter - and the FarmHub’s regional produce comes with managing those we co-habitat with, including our little furry friends!
Carrots left in the field might look like “food waste,” but because other animals have taken a bite, these veggies are unsafe for humans to eat. However, the practice of leaving the carrots in the field and re-tilling them into the soil, or composting them, are both totally sustainable (ecologically, though not so much financially) and re-integrates important nutrients that in turn help new plants grow.
Farmers face significant difficulties in producing crops that consumers don't always see.
Unfortunately, sometimes part or all of a crop is lost. With these carrots having been planted in August and harvested in January (and not growing very big due to shorter and greyer days), that is a lot of time and labour with no profits. The price of a carrot isn't just about the cost of a seed, but the work it took to grow the seed, tend to the crop, and get it to market. We hope this gave you insight into some of the challenges our hardworking regional farmers face.