***This post is part of our series “Tales from the Specialty Crop Ambassadors” – blog posts written by farmers working with the Center for Land-Based Learning in Winters, CA. The Specialty Crop Ambassadors are spearheading projects that support consumption, education, and access to California specialty crops.***
By Shane McKenna of McKenna Farms
It has been a hot and productive summer on McKenna Farms! Our specialty peppers were a big hit this year with local chefs, especially our sweet Hungarian varieties. They are just about done for the season along with the Sheepsnose Pimentons and the Jimmy Nardello peppers. The spicy peppers are still going strong though. Both green and red vine ripened Jalapeno peppers, known as Fresno chiles, have been popular and are still producing thanks to the honey bees who continue to pollinate them. Soon the superhot and prized Habanero chiles will be ready, ripening to a beautiful yellow. These notorious chiles are sometimes fermented and turned into exquisite hot sauces. The heat was hard on heirloom tomatoes this season affecting the Cherokee purples, but the Indigo Rose variety and the Sunrise Bumblebee cherries made up for it.
Overall this is a transitional time on the farm when most of the summer crops are petering out and we begin to convert to field to fall and winter crops. Soon our Charentais melons will be turned into the soil to make room for candy striped beets, golden beets, and classic Merlin red beets. Following that we will seed rainbow carrots, arugula and spinach. We will continue to maintain the field in a way that makes it accessible to students who are just now returning from summer vacation. Students will most likely participate in the final harvest of summer crops and the planting of a new round of crops which will carry us through fall and winter. This will help students learn about the cycles of food production on the farm and the importance of eating with the seasons. We are looking forward to final growing season of 2015 and have learned a lot along the way.