It’s been a while since I have written about one of the most crucial elements of our salad growing operations, but yesterday, as I looked around me as we were packing the salad we had harvested earlier in the afternoon, it struck me just how much has changed in the last couple of years. All testament to the massive increases in our salad growing…
Now that we’ve got 4 microsites on board, the quantities of salad are reaching huge proportions. This year in June we hit our target of getting Hackney-grown salad into every one of our Box Scheme member’s bags, with salad left over to go to local restaurants. That was over 70kg of salad! It’s hard to imagine unless you’ve seen it. And we maintained that level of production for 6 weeks. Tuesdays have been full on days!
Packing the salad is probably the least appealing element in the process of getting the salad from plot to plate. It’s repetitive, attention to detail is vital at all times and, at the height of the growing season when you’ve got over 600 bags to pack at the end of a good day of harvesting, it can be a rather long session.
But I think it can also be the most sociable time for the growers: the one time during the day that everyone – growers, apprentices and Patchwork Farmers – who have been out working their sites can get together. We use it as a time, not just to pack the salad, but to discuss what’s going on, how things are growing and how things are developing, as well as all manner of subjects…apprentice Jack has a wicked salad humour, frequently getting us all into fits of laughter with his salad related quips.
Having said this, it really puts your skills in multi-tasking to the test – can you chat whilst still stuffing a perfect mix of fresh fragile leaves into a bag? Can you chat while weighing up the bags or sealing them, so that you don’t get a mountain of stuffed bags piling up in front of you? And how about getting all those salad bags counted up and in the cold store before the evening runs away?
Here Ida leads us all in a mid-pack stretch, definitely a requirement after a long day’s work and an hour or two left of the pack!