Farm­ers mar­ket ven­dors pre­pare for fall harvest

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - SALLY CAR­ROLL scar­roll@nwadg.com

The un­sea­son­ably cooler tem­per­a­tures that seem to be in­di­cat­ing an early fall have some farm­ers pre­par­ing for an au­tumn harvest.

Pea Ridge Farm­ers Mar­ket man­ager Carol Roper is one of sev­eral farm­ers who are plant­ing for fall pro­duce.

With au­tumn-like tem­per­a­tures in store, plus the pos­si­bil­ity of some mois­ture thanks to Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, farm­ers don’t want to wait to plant.

“I planted 36 broc­coli last week and that’s just the be­gin­ning of my fall plant­ing,” Roper said, “be­cause it will be too late be­fore long.”

Roper plans ahead, col­lect­ing fall seeds be­fore even fin­ish­ing her sum­mer plant­ing.

Her fa­vorite cold weather crops in­clude broc­coli, cab­bage, cau­li­flower and peas.

This week, Roper will get most of those in the ground. Once planted, she will con­tinue har­vest­ing and mulching, just as she does for sum­mer crops.

Tomato plants will be covered by plas­tic and frost cover over a small frame.

Rak­ing leaves, cov­er­ing beds, smoth­er­ing weeds and adding more com­post are all part of the cold weather chores. On days too cold to be out­side, Roper plans to sit by the wood stove and look at her seed cat­a­logs. On nice days,

she’ll con­tinue to work her gar­dens and com­post pile.

Bee­keeper Shan­non Ivy of the Garfield/Pea Ridge area says he pre­pares for the fall sea­son by mak­ing sure his bees are get­ting enough pollen and nec­tar to stay strong for the win­ter.

The right con­di­tions lead to a dark fall honey, which isn’t al­ways avail­able.

“The wet sum­mers we’ve had the last three years in­clud­ing this one has made the con­di­tions right to get some dark fall honey,” Ivy said. “We should again this year but no guar­an­tees.”

Ivy will know in about a month’s time if they will pro­duce harvest able amounts.

The dark fall honey is a stronger, bolder tast­ing honey, which has a slight taste like sorghum or mo­lasses, Ivy said.

Ivy’s local bees are a hardy bunch that will with­stand the colder tem­per­a­tures in­evitably com­ing. “Ital­ian bees will keep pro­duc­ing brood and eat up a lot of the honey and they may starve,” Ivy said. “Types like Carniolan or Rus­sians are more fru­gal. They will shut down brood rear­ing when the nec­tar flow slows down. The best bees are the ones that are local. They have the right tim­ing for the area.”

Ivy’s stock is caught from feral bee swarms, then he keeps those and breeds from them. “They just sur­vive bet­ter than bees that can be bought and shipped in,” he said.

He some­times has to feed his bees in the fall and win­ter for their sur­vival.

As the Pea Ridge Farm­ers Mar­ket ven­dors pre­pare for fall, they are seek­ing a soap ven­dor and a baker for Sun­days.

The Pea Ridge Farm­ers Mar­ket is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thurs­day and Sun­day and fea­tures fresh veg­gies and fruit, as well as honey, jams and jel­lies, Arkansas raised beef, pork and chicken, smoked tur­keys and ham, eggs, baked goods and more.

The mar­ket will be open this com­ing Sun­day, the day be­fore La­bor Day, Roper said.

The mar­ket is lo­cated at 197 Slack St. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit the Pea Ridge Farm­ers Mar­ket or Her­itage Gar­dens Face­book pages.

Pho­to­graph sub­mit­ted

Cathy Lynn Fletcher buys pears from Carol Roper at a re­cent Pea Ridge Farm­ers Mar­ket.

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