To a first-time visitor, the farm stand probably didn’t look like one that was about to close for the season. Granted, there was no squash on the tables, yet that omission could have easily slipped under a person’s radar while selecting tomatoes out of 21 crates, and deciding how many icebox watermelons to buy from the 780 pounds on display. Not to mention the baskets filled with onions, peppers and eggplant. As Farmer John, Dana and I set up the stand last week, it almost even had me fooled. Almost.

The thing is, I know what the farm looks like right now, and it ain’t pretty.

Like I’ve told countless customers at our two stands, this spring and summer have been the hardest two seasons (one extended season, really, when you get right down to it) we’ve experienced since we began farming 13 years ago.

In a typical June and July — and let’s sprinkle a few grains of salt on “typical,” since I’m not so sure we can use that word anymore when it comes to weather — it takes a concerted effort by all of us at the farm to get everything harvested during the two days prior to each farm stand. I remember summers past when John’s and my states of mind fluctuated between too angst-ridden to be exhausted, or too worn out to be anxious that every moment had to be devoted to market prep while other important chores were, due to the simple lack of hours in a day, left undone.

Oh how we miss the good times.

Okay, I jest. A little. But I have an analogy. Never having had a child, I can’t talk from personal experience, yet I’ve heard the reason a woman is able to decide to go through childbirth more than once is because some chemical in her brain makes her forget how painful it is. And I’m thinking that’s kind of like farming in Central Texas in the summertime. For some crazed reason, each spring I find myself eager for the upcoming summer season, even though I know full well the experience will likely range anywhere from stressful to horrendous.

At the same time, it can be such a wonderful, gratifying endeavor.

While each and every summer crop is important, tomatoes top the list. And incredibly, in a 13th year that feels like exactly what the number 13 implies, we enjoyed a beautiful tomato season. At this point we’re looking at a total harvest of more than 7,000 pounds of hybrid and heirloom tomates combined. Not too shabby for a “petite farm” (as customer Barbara calls it), if we may be allowed to pat our sweaty selves on the back a little bit.

And how about those melons? Ignoring the obvious chest-related innuendo, this summer’s intense heat and record-breaking lack of rain gave us by far the tastiest melon crop ever, and probably one of the most productive.

So we shouldn’t complain (much). Especially since all along we told the Jollyville Road customers that although we try to stay open through July, we doubted it would happen this year. And look. This Wednesday is indeed the last one of the month and by golly, we made it. We limped here, for sure, but we’re here nonetheless.

A customer at one of our last markets in Jonestown smiled sweetly and asked, “Do you think the fall will be better for you?” It was a question I couldn’t answer, since Mother Nature has the final word in everything we do. I thought about what we’ve planted for the fall so far and what we’ll be planting as the late summer weeks wear on.

All I could say was, “Let’s hope so.”

* * *

For our last market of the season this coming Wednesday, we’ll be bringing:

Tomatoes — (not 21 crates this week…but a surprisingly decent amount!); loads of peppers — red and yellow bells, sweet red Corno di Toro peppers, Cubanelles and jalapenos; four varieties of eggplant; bags of arugula; super sweet Yellow Granex onions; elephant garlic; okra; and some of the last “this’s and thats” of the summer.

Thanks for sticking with us! We’ll miss seeing everybody for a couple months, but hope to come back refreshed (and maybe rained on??) either the last Wednesday in September or the first Wednesday in October. I’ll keep you informed!

Thank you, and we hope you have a wonderful remainder of the summer!
Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm
Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the clinking yellow light [CLOSED FOR THE SEASON]; and
Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)

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