Celery Harvest–Salinas, California–July 5, 2012

Food is more important than art, despite any pompous protestations of the over-educated. It’s a simple equation. No food=death. No art≠death. Art’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but if I have to choose between the Mona Lisa and some way of obtaining food on a desert island, I’m going to sell the Mona Lisa and buy a fishing pole.

Anyway, we grow a lot of food on our farm. Celery is one of them. Today we were harvesting a block of celery about fifty yards from my office. Celery grows in dense rows, about two feet tall or so. Most of the top portion gets chopped off, so you don’t see that in the store. That’s a shame, because those fronds are great for soups.

Here’s a shot of the edge of the block, with a block of strawberries just past it. You can see the tall clumps of dill growing interspersed in the celery. We do that in order to attract beneficial insects, as this is organic celery.

The next photo is of the harvesting wing. It’s a sort of conveyor table set up for sorting, washing, and packing the celery as it’s being harvested. Pretty much all your row crop vegetables are harvested with wings like this these days. Some of them are immense and some are fairly small like this one. Some are motorized and some are pulled or pushed by tractors like this one. You can see one wheel of the tractor just to the right of the man with his back to the camera.

Celery is tremendously heavy, as opposed to lettuce. Therefore, you usually have a forklift on tracks to move the palletized cartons around the field and to stack them on the trucks for transport to the cooler. If you take a look at the field around the forklift, you’ll notice that everything’s cut. Not a single head of celery is left standing. When you cut a celery field, you cut everything. If the field is producing different sizes, you can pack them in different boxes. You don’t do this with lettuce (unless you’re cutting for the shredder). It’s pretty typical to see a lot of lettuce left behind in a field that’s been cut.

Like I said before, the celery gets severely chopped down from its native size. Two feet or so down to this portion you see in the photo. Eat more celery. It’s good for you.

6 thoughts on “Celery Harvest–Salinas, California–July 5, 2012”

  1. Fascinating. And yes, the leafy bits of celery do make great soup fodder. Around here, the celery isn’t chopped off quite as radically as the one in the photo, it usually has some smallish leaves left (especially in the middle). But I had no idea it grew two feet tall!

    Where does your produce get sold? Just in your area, or all over the place (i.e. might we get some of it here in Canada)?

    1. We grow for a company that sells under their own name (Deardorff). I think they actually do sell up into Canada. Other than that, yeah, it gets sold around the United States.

    1. It gets worked back into the soil. Very good for it (and for whatever crop gets grown next on that piece of ground).

  2. i’m interested in your in field harvesting rig,,do you have any more photos and or info about it that you could send me?,,thanks for replying

    1. Sorry about the tardy response. Not sure why I missed your comment. I don’t have any more photos currently, but we’re going to start harvesting celery fairly soon. I’ll try to put up some new photos.

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