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CCFB News» October 2021

Ag Lit BitGoodbye Summer, Hello Fall

Just when the sweet corn is addictive and the tomatoes are bountiful it’s time to say goodbye to the bounty of my garden. A new favorite I planted this summer was the Mexican Midget Tomato and let me tell you, the description stating they are “prolific” was spot on! For the second year in a row my impulse to add just a few more plants to my garden resulted in a dense forest of tomatoes that were difficult to even reach. These midgets were the star of the garden.


While up in northern Wisconsin last month I discovered a new item I can’t wait to grow next year: ground cherries. They are close relatives of tomatillos and considered a type of “husk tomato.” They are similar in size to a small cherry tomato, yellow when ripe and very intriguing to me. As I walked through the local farmers’ market, I spotted the unusual fruit and had no clue what they were until the man next to me said, “Just boil them up with a bit of sugar and water and they make a wonderful jam.” Wow, he was right.


As fall arrives, new favorites will replace the local summer harvest including cranberries (I was a bit too early to catch them being harvested in Wisconsin), squash (a new favorite we discovered last fall was the delicada squash that is delicious and doesn’t require peeling), and finally fresh apples and pie pumpkins to name a few. What a great time of year to try different fruits and veggies!


A new book that is part of the IL Ag In the Classroom Teacher grant offering is titled, Try It by Mara Rockliff. The book tells the story of Frieda Caplan, the first woman in the U.S. to start her own produce company. When she started selling produce, supermarkets carried about 65 kinds of fruits/vegetables compared with over 700 now, many that were introduced by Frieda. Some unique items she encouraged others to try included black radishes, Asian pears, blood oranges, red bananas, lychee, and much more.


So, try to be like Frieda as you explore farmers’ markets this fall and “try it”. You never know what new delicacy farmers will be bringing your way.


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