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A Sunshine State of Mind
A Sunshine State of Mind
According to Elian’s odometer, Parisi Farms is 55 miles from my house via state and county roads. Mostly south (about a half degree of latitude), and slightly lower in elevation (about 100 ft), but not enough to put it out of hardiness Zone 7, let alone into the climates of Florida where Penny came from. I was shivering when I got out of the car at the same frequency I did when back at my house. I compared with her the low temperature for last Saturday, the coldest morning of the year so far, and came out pretty close. How is it, then, that Penny will be picking well over 100 orders of fresh greens for the CAFÉ market today and tomorrow?
First, because Penny seems to carry her own internally-radiated sunshine, and is one of the most focused, hard-working people on the planet! She works in the fields for more hours these days than the celestial sun, having been seen well after dark with flashlight cutting for her markets. “If Eliott Coleman can grow vegetables through the winter in Maine, we ought to be able to do it here in SC,” she contends. I would point out that Coleman’s Maine crops are under 2 layers of insulated greenhouse film, whereas Parisi’s crops thrive sheltered only by the blanket of Penny’s love. Save for a 30’X15’ high tunnel, used mostly as a transplant incubator, her crops stand fully exposed to the best and worst of the Abbeville County winter.
This brings us to the second reason she is able to make such a large harvest during the coldest part of the year. The bulk of the plant tissue contained in the leaves and stems of she will be bunching, bagging, and labeling was added to the plants during the Autumn when temps were higher and days were longer. It is one thing to maintain mature plants into the cold season; it is another to germinate them or get them out of the seedling stage. This is why it will be harder to sustain a harvest in February and March than it is in January. Still, for Penny to be able to harvest so much now she had to have allocated much space and time for these crops several months ago, a sacrifice not many growers are capable of making. We consumers often forget how much harder it is to produce a bunch of greens in January. Incremental growth from week to week is negligible, yet the customer expects the same size and quality at the same price.
As the cloud layer over our heads refused to lift, Elian and I headed down the road to nearby Shamrock Farms and to Southern Oaks Jersey Farm (topics for another time), leaving Penny beaming her sunshine on your soon-to-be-picked up greens.
Market still open till noon.