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Bracing for the Season's First Cold Snap

Bracing for the Season's First Cold Snap

Sunrise Organic Farms continues to harvest summer crops like tomatoes and peppers while bracing for the season’s first cold snap that will symbolically flip nature’s switch to fall. “We’re just trying to pick as many summer things while they’re still nice and abundant,” Sunrise co-owner Andrew Gibson says. “We’re trying to balance picking, planting, and weeding.”

Unseasonably warm weather has finally started to turn, welcoming cooler air to Southern California. “Things are getting colder, so they’re not bouncing back as quickly as far as refruiting,” Gibson says. “We’ll definitely be making our way into winter veg pretty soon.”

This week, it’s still possible to savor Roma tomatoes, which new to Farmfluence subscribers. Their name sounds Italian and this variety is often associated with tomato sauce, but the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service developed this San Marzano and Red Top hybrid in Maryland. Gibson describes Roma as “one of the heartier tomatoes.” Bonus: “It also doesn’t have the through the roof sugar content that that the heirlooms and some of the cherries have that are hard to balance.” He mostly uses Romas for sauces and salsas. Enjoy them now since tomato season is “coming to an end rapidly.” Gibson says, “Now that it’s getting colder, it could honestly happen at any point.”

Poblano chiles, mild green peppers that originated in Puebla, Mexico, should be available until the end of December, barring any cold snaps. Sunrise grows Poblanos in Goleta and they’re great for chiles rellenos or stir-fries. Dried Poblanos are ancho chiles.

Other farm box produce resembles what Sunrise offered last week: salanova, yellow onions, shallots, jalapeños, spinach, lacinato kale, carrots, and butternut squash.

“This is our season to regroup,” Gibson says. It’s so hectic during the summer, so much to pick, just not enough time, not enough hands. It’s full throttle until it gets a little cooler and things slow down a little bit.” Shifting weather is finally giving Sunrise a breather.

Planting remains constant. “We plant every week,” Gibson says. He and his partners, Jesus Salas and son Jesus, who they call Chuy, currently have seven properties across Santa Barbara County. Since they often divide and conquer, discussions can happen anywhere: on their loading duck, in the office in the main house or from assorted farms. “One of us is always somewhere else, so we are definitely always on the phone a lot,” Gibson says. “That’s one of our lifelines. We do a lot of conference calls to see what’s going on. If there’s a problem with something, we figure out how to remedy it together.” 

Each January, post-holidays, is when the partners have larger conversations, make projections for the next year, and choose the direction for Sunrise Organic Farms. In the meantime, the farmers will continue to juggle and hustle. After all, even thinking about a relatively light farmer’s schedule would still make most people sweat.

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