Harvesting organically grown yellow and green squash at sunrise on Punta Gorda Farm, Florida. The farm workers are Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants on guest-worker visas and resident/greencards. They are paid minimum wage of $8.25/hour up to $15/hr. for more skilled labor. Squash can be first harvested after 30 days from planting of seedlings with picking daily for optimal size. Average yield is about 700 bushels/acre over the life of the corp.
The General Manager guesses that conventional (non-organic) farming methods would yield about double, due to fertilzier and less loss from pests. The farm is owned by Thomas Beddard, who started Lady Moon Farms in Sillings Grove, PA with 5 acres of organic vegetables in 1988, and now has 2,400 acres in PA, FL, and GA.
Today they will end up discarding 2/3 of the yellow squash harvested due to cosmetic imperfections, where small nicks and bumps from dropping a squash in a bucket turn into brown bruises that consumers won't buy. Part of the discards are donated to a food bank, but most are turned into compost as there is no market. Most of their sales are to Whole Foods or Four Seasons market.
Lady Moon plants 2-3 crops per field per year, rotating crops between squash, lettuce, kale, pepper, tomoates, and eggplant, with sorghum used as a cover crop through the summer when it's too hot for vegetables.
- ©2018 George Steinmetz
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