Let’s Talk The Numbers

We keep detailed records about veggie production and sale.  We record how much of each veggie and meat we sell at each market so that we know how much to harvest and bring for next time.  We can also use the same numbers for next year to predict for “special markets” like the last ones before thanksgiving.

Before every harvest day, William looks up the records and guesses how much of every crop we need to harvest for market.  Then he tallies up all the custom orders that restaurants sent us and figures out the total amount of each crop we should harvest that day.  To keep it all organized (we have several dozen crops), there’s a special “harvest sheet” that we use each harvest day.  This is a typical example:


There’s a fair amount of prior knowledge necessary to interpret the harvest sheet.  Some crops are understood to be by the pound, like Arugula and Elegance (a mix of three mustard greens).  Others get bunched with rubber bands, like chard and collards.  Watermelon refers to the “watermelon” variety of radish that we grow.  The rows with blank “total harvest” entries are already harvested in some capacity — sweet potatoes and garlic in the store room, habaneros in the fridge from the last harvest before pulling out the plants, etc.

It also shows how much each market gets, which is used after harvest for sorting into each market’s area in the big fridge.  It also has any special orders we got that week.

We have this sheet out with us when we’re harvesting in the mornings and we mark off each one as we go.  The order on the sheet doesn’t match the order of harvest — we normally harvest things depending on how resilient they are to wilting.  The three types of kale we grow are usually harvested first, along with collards, chard, and the other bunched greens.  Then we go to the loose greens like arugula and elegance.  Then herbs, roots, scallions…

After harvest, this sheet goes into the big archive binder so that next week (and next year) we can pull it out to review the numbers.

This sheet was for a typical harvest week — no big holidays or crop changes to make things weird.  For instance, the above sheet says we harvested 50 bunches of curly kale for Nov 12 Charlotte market.  For the Nov 19 Charlotte market, we harvested over 100 bunches of curly kale, because we could see from previous years that we can sell a lot more on the last market before Thanksgiving.

For me, it’s interesting to keep track of how the harvest numbers change as a crop grows.  Our carrots are doing very well, but when they were still young, the harvest sheet might say something like “5?” for the carrots entry because it was difficult to find carrots large enough to harvest.  Nowadays we harvest 50+ bunches no problem.

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