Pining (and Whining) for Lettuce
I'm green with envy over the all-winter-long fresh local vegetables Au Naturel Farm provides people in and near lucky Smiths Grove, Kentucky. "In the winter months (Nov-April), Au Naturel Farm has mesclun (a mix of baby lettuces and greens), a variety of lettuces, spinach, arugula and other greens, such as collards, kale and Swiss Chard, Chinese cabbage and Pac Choi, along with radishes, turnips and other items available for sale." All organic - since 1989. Grown in earth-friendly, unheated "high tunnel" greenhouses. The Au Natural farmers, Paul and Alison Wiediger, quite literally wrote the book on high tunnel green houses. Yet their knowledge and success have not inspired any Bluegrass copycat farms.
The Weidigers do workshops and invite tours. They have sold to happy customers in their area, including Bowling Green, for more than 10 years. They give away information and advice about their system on their website. For example, there is this:
"These crops are harvested from October through April and sold direct to subscription customers. The cost of a 20x96 structure runs between $2000 and $2500 and the only continuing cost is electricity for a small inflation fan and replacing plastic every 4 years."
Since the last local fresh greens are only a crunchy memory and since we are still weeks from the first 2009 greens, and since I'm too lazy to have my own cold frame -- and since it's going to be 15 degrees cool outside tonight, AGAIN -- I am sharing my late winter lament: When will we have great local greens produced year round, sustainably, in the Bluegrass?? Puhleeze, pretty please, with a perfect vinaigrette on it?
I have a more exotic wish list for vegetables and foods I wish were grown in Kentucky. I'll get to it in future days. But for tonight, I'll stop at "Let us have lettuce" and hope some strong, entrepreneurial central Kentucky farmers (with closets full of Carhartts, insulated, in multiple colors and styles ) will take pity, learn from the Weidigers, and build some high tunnels for the 2009-2010 winter.
Photo Credits: Dirks, Dystortia, Kameel - Thank You!