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Sep 22, 2016 03:36PM

Growing, growing, gone! Area farmers reflect on their summer, prep for next season

By Natalie Dal Pra
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While farmers market season comes to a close, a farmer's work does not! Holly Johnson of Holly Jeanís Greens, based out of Moline, trades summer's peaches and blackberries for autumn's apples and squash.
While October usually brings a welcome relief from the summer heat, it also signals that the farmers market season soon will come to an end. Luckily, the fall season still has plenty to offer market-goers. Strawberries, tomatoes and peaches may be gone for the year, but apples, squash and sweet potatoes are welcome replacements.

For many farmers, October also lends a chance to reflect on how the year has gone as they begin the planning process for the year ahead.

Holly Jean's Greens, based out of Moline, has had a successful year thus far, with blackberries, peaches and other fruits as best sellers. Owner Holly Johnson has a pretty jam-packed market season, with booths through the Growers Markets of the Quad Cities, a booth at Skeleton Key Antiques in Rock Island that ended at the end of September, and the new Mercado Market in Moline.

Johnson jokes that once the market season is over, she finally can get some much needed sleep. "I'll actually be able to catch up on some rest after October," Johnson says. "But my schedule stays pretty busy with Growers Market meetings and planning for next year. I'm always trying to come up with plans for the year ahead. It's a year-round job."

On the docket for Holly Jean's end-of-season produce are apples, squash, lettuce and gourds. Johnson also planned ahead this year and may have corn and radishes available through the end of October.

Johnson says she didn't plant pumpkins this year, but other vendors at the Growers Market plan to offer them. "There are so many seasonal items you can find down there. Pumpkins, different varieties of squash, pumpkin pies, sweet potato pies, a lady who makes cookies — there are tons of tasty things."

You can find Holly Jean's on Wednesdays, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the East Moline Farmers' Market, in the Skate City parking lot, 1112 42nd Ave.; and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon at the Trinity Moline Market, at UnityPoint Health-Trinity Moline, 500 John Deere Road, through October.

For Grinnell Heritage Farm, out of Grinnell, Iowa, the selling season doesn't end when the farmers markets close. Instead, Grinnell offers a CSA program through early winter, in addition to supplying food for grocery stores in the Des Moines region and hosting multiple market booths in Des Moines, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.

Co-owner Melissa Dunham says it's been a busy and successful season for the farm thus far, with carrots as the biggest seller. Now, they are gearing up for a busy fall season ahead.

"Our fall, especially September through November, are one of the busiest times on the farm. We're busy harvesting root crops, preparing the facilities for winter and trying to clean up the farm before the snow flies," Dunham says. "We typically harvest 30,000 pounds of storage carrots, several thousand pounds of beets, parsnips and other roots during this time."

Their winter CSA program will offer items such as kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts. Dunham says they will be harvesting crops outdoors through December, provided the winter is mild enough.

Natalie Dal Pra is a regular Radish contributor. For more information about Grinnell Heritage Farm, visit grinnellheritagefarm.com.

Falling for autumn's veggies

Make the most of your farmers market bounty with this tasty and easy squash or zucchini garlic Parmesan dish. 

Garlic Parmesan Zucchini and Squash
(Serves: 4-6)
2 zucchinis, cut into ½-inch slices
2 yellow squash, cut into ½-inch slices
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, add zucchini, squash, Parmesan, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Toss with your hands to completely coat.
Place zucchini and squash on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is slightly browned. Serve.
Recipe source: joyfulhealthyeats.com 

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