(Almost) to the farmers markets we go

  • Young radishes grow in a greenhouse at Kearsarge Gore Farm in Warner April 12, 2016. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Dirt lines the fingernails of Kearsarge Gore Farm co-owner Jennifer Ohler on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Ohler and her family were busy prepping for the farmers market season and transplanting many young produce seedlings from their basement to greenhouses outdoors.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • A sheep at Kearsarge Gore Farm in Warner, which mostly sells vegetables but also sells some meat and maple syrup.   ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Sam Bower and his partner, Sarah Hansen, walk away from one of their greenhouses at Kearsarge Gore Farm on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. The couple is slowly taking over management of the farm from Bower’s parents, and last week, they were busy getting ready for the farmers market season.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Seeds for cut flowers sit ready for planting at Kearsarge Gore Farm recently. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Kearsarge Gore Farm in Warner is getting into its busy growing season this week after finishing maple syrup production. Various produce seedlings, which are begun in the basement, are being transferred outside and into greenhouses to grow for the farmers market season, which begins in May.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Sam Bower checks on some winter oats in one of Kearsarge Gore Farm’s fields recently as his partner, Sarah Hansen, looks on and Charlie the dog helps. ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Farm helper Derek “Walter” Senor waters young produce seedlings at Kearsarge Gore Farm on Tuesday. BELOW RIGHT: Young radishes grow in one of the farm’s greenhouses. BELOW LEFT: A curious sheep looks over his stall at the farm. Photos by ELODIE REED / Monitor staff

  • The road to Kearsarge Gore Farm in Warner on April 16, 2016. In a month the farm will be carting its early spring leafy greens to farmers markets.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

  • Sarah Hansen goes through the window towards the seedlings that, begun in the basement, will grow and be sold by Kearsarge Gore Farm at local farmers markets next month.  ELODIE REED—Monitor staff

Published: 4/17/2016 12:02:18 AM

I got a sneak peak of summer this week, and boy is it going to be good.

This week, the arrival of summer tasted like mustard greens and miner’s lettuce. Literally. I chomped on the alternately spicy and delicately refreshing, just-picked greens while Sam Bower, Sarah Hansen and Charlie the dog showed me around Kearsarge Gore Farm.

The sprawling, off-the-grid, 500-acre vegetable farm in Warner was in its transition phase Tuesday. Having just finished maple sugaring the previous day, Bower, Hansen and Bower’s parents, Bob Bower and Jennifer Ohler, who are KGF’s founders, were busy trying to get their produce going. Even with the gardens not fully open and greenhouses hosting just little seedlings, the farm seemed to be teeming with life.

The bright afternoon and warmer, dry air didn’t hurt. Neither did the sheep or the cows laying down, basking in the sun.

I felt privileged that Sam Bower and Hansen took the hour and a half they did to talk to me, especially since right now is go-time. The Concord Farmers Market opens May 7 with more to follow and there’s a whole lot of planting, growing, transplanting, harvesting, washing and packing to do before then.

“It’s a good challenge for us, actually,” Sam said with a laugh. Referring to Concord, he said, “It’s one of the markets we need most of our produce for.”

Fortunately, the snow has been off the ground for a while, and KGF has been able to get a jump start on its vegetable season. On Tuesday, the main job was to get seedlings. The process started in the basement of the Bower household.

“You have to acclimate your vegetables to the natural sunlight,” Sam said. “You should be bringing them in and out of the greenhouses.”

Walking in-between greenhouses, Bower also pointed to little green shoots coming up through hay in the farm’s gardens: Garlic.

“The garlic is always one of the first things to pop up in the spring,” he said. KGF planted a record number last October with a whopping 14,000 cloves.

In a few more weeks, the farm will pack its earliest grown greens – such as the mustard greens I tried – into its black pickup truck to go to Concord, Warner and Henniker farmers markets as well as the Concord Food Co-op, the Kearsarge Food Hub, the Local Harvest CSA and several local businesses.

One local business, Micro Mama’s of Weare, buys KGF’s peppers, ferments them, and then sells them to Tom Brady.

“He eats our peppers so that’s pretty cool,” Hansen said.

Those peppers, along with tomatoes, cucumbers and other veggies, will be ready mid-summer. Crops like potatoes, cabbage and squash will get the farm through the end of the season into the fall.

When summer is in full swing, Bower said the farm sells vegetables six days a week for 25 weeks. It also sells cord wood and maple syrup in the winter, and pork, lamb and beef periodically throughout the year.

Ohler grows and sells fresh-cut flowers, too.

This time of year is the beginning of it all, and that, Bower and Hansen said, is something to get excited about. While seedlings are growing in the greenhouse, Hansen said she’s been looking at new labeling and signage for the market stand with great enthusiasm.

“Which is totally dweeby, but I love it,” she said.

Bower said farmers look forward to the summer markets just as much as customers do.

“It’s fun,” he said. “For all sorts of reasons – we’ve been cooped up, too,” he said.

Wayne Hall, president of the Concord Farmers Market and the Lewis Farm vendor, seconded that in a phone interview Wednesday. Everyone is so enthused, he said, the summer market is opening two weeks earlier than usual to close the gap with the winter markets.

He added that the mild winter and spring makes it possible for farms like KGF to be ready for the warmer season early.

“Our farmers are definitely planting earlier crops,” Hall said.

With the northern end of Main Street construction finished, the farmers market and its 40 or so vendors will be back in the usual location on Capitol Street.

So why wait any longer to buy freshly picked, local food, directly from our farmers?

“Our customers are the best,” Hall said. “People are very excited. It’s a very upbeat atmosphere. You can’t wait to get there.”

After my little taste Tuesday, I can’t wait either.

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