Winter Squash

 Gathering Together Farm winter squash display at the Corvallis Farmers’ Market

 A version of this post was first published on Wayward Spark.

Gathering Together Farm grows (among other things) seven types of winter squash on about five acres of fertile ground. Planting, tending, harvesting, washing, packing, and delivering the bounty to market requires a lot of time and a lot of laboring, but the result is monumental and delicious. Their delicata squash crop alone yields about 20,000 pounds of fruit.

buttercup squash, kabocha squash

Squash varieties have been trialed and selected over the years based on several characteristics: yield, market demand, storage, and taste. An individual variety may rate well in regards to several traits but poorly with others. Pie pumpkins are in demand, but they don’t keep very well. Kabocha squash has a decent yield, stores fairly well, and is delicious, but people often aren’t very familiar with it and are sometimes intimidated by its relatively large size.

delicata squash

Delicata squash is a perpetual favorite. Perfect size. Perfect sweet smooth flavor. Easy to cut into. Easily blends into any autumnal recipe. GTF with our partners at Wild Garden Seed grow, save, and sell a farm-original, ‘Zeppelin’ variety of delicata. (You can read the whole story of how they managed to avoid seed contaminated with bitterness like so many other farms experienced a decade ago.)

The farm’s seed/irrigation/greenhouse manager Joelene has observed that winter squash will produce more vibrant vines and have a larger fruit set if they are direct seeded in the spring. The downside of this method is that a wet spring can delay planting, or an early frost can leave a whole crop of underripe squash sitting unharvested in the field. Transplanting young squash seedlings is a more reliable though somewhat less productive method employed by GTF.

acorn squash

Winter squash begins to ripen in September, but the main harvest starts in early October. The skins of the squash harden, and the vines yellow and eventually die back. Before the first frost, teams of laborers head out to the fields to clip the squash stems and later load the harvest into industrial onion bins (with a method similar to the watermelon toss seen here). Bins are trucked back to the farm packing and storage area where they will be washed, sorted, and wiped dry by more workers with the help of a conveyor-belt sprayer system. Squash that doesn’t meet high quality control standards is donated to the regional food bank or composted.

 butternut squash, ambercup squash

Squash will generally keep for several months if it is kept in a dry place at a consistant, cool temperature. At the farm, squash that isn’t sold shortly after harvest is stored in a large shipping container with a dehumidifier.

Gathering Together Farm sells squash in all of our farmers’ market booths, to restaurants and grocery stores in Corvallis and the Portland area, and at our Farm Stand. We also have a long-standing contract for many tons of butternut squash with Oregon-based distributor of organic produce, Organically Grown Company.

This year, GTF grew the following varieties of winter squash:

Butternut

Metro‘ from Johnny’s Selected Seed
‘JSW 6823’ from Johnny’s Selected Seed
Early Butternut‘ from Osborne Seed Company
Nutterbutter‘ from High Mowing Seed Company

 

Kabocha

Delica‘ from Osborne Seed Company
Sweet Mama‘ from Osborne Seed Company
Cha Cha‘ from Johnny’s Selected Seed
Sunshine‘ (orange) from Johnny’s Selected Seed

 

Buttercup

‘Bon Bon’ from Johnny’s Selected Seed

 

Acorn

Jet‘ from Johnny’s Selected Seed

 

Delicata

Zeppelin‘ from Wild Garden Seed

 ‘Marina Di Chioggia‘ from Johnny’s Selected Seed

Sweet Meat‘ from Territorial Seed Company

Views Around the Farm Stand + Lunch Menu for October 23-26

It appears we’ve gone from summer straight into winter, but the Farm Stand is still open until November 17. Fend off the cold with fresh coffee, a warm meal, and everything you need to put together hot soup in your own kitchen.

Menu Vocabulary Word of the Week: fior di latte — fresh mozzarella made from cow’s milk

fior di latte/garlic/basil/tomato pizza

The Lunch Menu (subject to change based on availability)

antipasti

pork pâté served with baguette and cornichon
mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette
GTF salad with goat cheese, beets, peppers, almonds, and tarragon-balsamic vinaigrette
fennel soup with artisan bread
roasted pepper and vegetable soup with artisan bread

 

pizze ($9.5)

fior di latte/garlic/basil/tomato
ham/balsamic onions/tomato/mozzarella
garlic sausage/delicata/goat cheese
watercress/tomato/mozzarella
add egg, duck confit, or fresh tomatoes

 

secondi ($9.5-$10.5)

torta di zucca with chard and pumpkin seeds
brodetto of rockfish and white prawns with spinach, farm-egg aïoli, and baguette
pork ragú with romanesco, parsley, and parmesan over creamy polenta
prosciutto and her-stuffed pork loin, smashed potatoes, braised cabbage, and cherry mostarda
 

torta di zucca with chard and pumpkin seeds