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Do you ever wonder where your veggies hang out over the winter? I did. So I took a truck tour of Visser Farms with Phil Visser. They farm a total of 200 acres in Zeeland and Jenison.
It turns out that some vegetables can stay in the ground. Weather is always a factor, but kale, rutabagas, and turnips usually stay in the ground over winter and are harvested when there’s access to them, and then they’re stored temporarily before market or delivery. Broccoli likes the sudden warm days of autumn and springs back to life. It stays in the ground until damaged. So, it’s available when there is an occasional, very mild winter. (Well, not this year!)
Root vegetables, such as carrots, onions, potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, sweet potatoes, celery root, and beets are stored in a nearby facility over winter that’s about 38 degrees.
The farm started in 1902; currently the fifth generation is working it. They do their best to keep sprays to a minimum and use natural fertilizer. Also, they plant cover crops, such as rye, in the fall to prevent soil erosion and to replenish nutrients into the soil when plowed under. The crops are regularly rotated to ensure that the soil is healthy and not stressed or stripped of nutrients.
Find the Michigan root vegetable mainstays at restaurants in Grand Rapids and Holland and the Fulton Street Farmers Market. The market is open on Saturdays 10:00 am to 1:00 pm from January to April.