OSA had a very well received field day at Nash’s Organic Farm in Sequim, WA on Nov. 1st. We started the day with a visit to one of Nash’s carrot fields where Scott Chichester explained their need for a hardy yet delicious carrot variety to meet the challenges of their fall and winter carrot production. He explained how they needed tall, strong tops that would hold up under the freeze-thaw cycles and still be harvestable with their elegant, old school mechanical harvester in February. We learned about the proper spacing, cultivation, and hilling that made growing beautiful winter market carrots possible in the Maritime Northwest.
The next part of the field day consisted of evaluating the 10 carrot varieties and eight beet varieties that we have been testing for the NOVIC project that we are involved in. The varieties of carrots and beets were laid out on long tables, both with the whole roots with tops and with cut up raw pieces of carrot and shredded cooked beets of each variety to taste test. We had a nice tutorial by Dr. John Navazio on all of the market traits that are most important for both crops and John explained some of the basics on the science of flavor for both of these complex flavored crops. The group of farmers, gardeners, and community activists present were abuzz with questions and comments as they dug in to tasting the diverse group of roots present. The OSA staff helped tally the score on which roots were the sweetest, most flavorful, and the ones with not-so-favorable flavors. Everyone came away with a much better understanding of how to grow winter carrots, what traits were important, and happily amazed at how different the flavor of these two crops could be!
Don’t miss more pictures after the jump.