Farmer Questions and Answers

If you weren't raised in a farming family, you probably have a lot of questions about how delicious fruits and veggies are grown, and what you can do to keep them fresh the longest. To help you on your quest for knowledge, our farmers have provided answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

1.    How do you know what types of fruits and vegetables will grow best on your land?
2.    What crops are the hardest and easiest to grow?
3.    On average, how long does it take to grow a fruit or vegetable, harvest it and get it into the store?
4.    What percentage of your total produce is usually sold at farmer’s markets or by grocers?
5.    What do you do with the produce you can’t sell?
6.    How can you tell what produce is ripe at the store?
7.    What fruits and vegetables keep the longest and which ones keep for the shortest amount of time?
8.    How do I keep produce fresh for the longest amount of time?
9.    What do you do during the winter?
10.  What do you do to keep your soil and land healthy during every growing cycle?
11.  How do Nature’s Partner® farmers help one another?
12.  What do Nature’s Partner® farmers have in common?

1. How do you know what types of fruits and vegetables will grow best on your land?

There are two main factors that help farmers decide what will grow best on their land. The first factor is the climate where the farm is located, and the second factor is what type of nutrients are found naturally in the soil.

2.What crops are the hardest and easiest to grow?

It is not so much a matter of easiest to hardest – rather, different produce develops from seed to harvest on very different time scales.

Row crops such as lettuce, spinach, peppers, cucumbers and many other vegetables may take only 45 days from seed to table. Fruits such as peaches, plums and nectarines, however, can take three years from when they are planted until the farmer harvests a crop, and up to five years for the tree to fully mature. The same is true for grapes and kiwifruit because the vines they grow on also take many years to mature.

Perhaps the most difficult part of growing fresh fruits and vegetables is the unpredictability of the weather. A hurricane or hard freeze can destroy a year of a farmer’s labor over night. Perfect weather, on the other hand, produces abundant crops of fresh fruits and vegetables for all to enjoy.

3.On average, how long does it take to grow a fruit or vegetable, harvest it and get it into the store?

While the trees that grow peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots can take three to five years to mature, it takes 365 days from the time a summer fruits blossom until they are ready for harvest. Vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, peppers and eggplant take only 45 to 90 days from planting to harvest. Once a fruit or vegetable is harvested in the U.S., it takes three to seven days to reach the shelf of your grocery store.

4.What percentage of your total produce is usually sold at farmer's markets or by grocers?

Approximately 75-80% is sold to large grocery stores, and some is sent to wholesale market. Only 1% to 2% is sold at a Farmers Markets.

5.What do you do with the produce you can't sell?

Some of the produce that doesn't sell can be used as compost for the soil and some can be fed to the pets and other animals on the farm.

6.How can you tell what produce is ripe at the store?

Different fruits have different signals that indicate when they are fully ripe. However, a general rule is that most summer fruits are ripe when they give slightly to the touch and have a wonderful aroma. There is detailed information about how to select each fruit and vegetable we grow in the Produce Section of our website.

7.What fruits and vegetables keep the longest and which ones keep for the shortest amount of time?

All fresh fruits and vegetables require careful handling and storage to maximize their shelf life (see the Produce Section for more detailed information). In general, fragile fruits such as berries must be eaten in two to three days, while fruits like apples and kiwifruit can keep much longer if stored in the refrigerator.

8.How do I keep produce fresh for the longest amount of time?

The shelf life of fruits and vegetables vary by variety, but there are some general guidelines you can follow to keep your produce fresh:

   1.Clean off any soil from the outside of the produce after you buy it and dry it thoroughly.
   2.Eat any bruised or damaged or overly ripe produce first.
   3.Keep produce like apples, which give off ethylene gas, away from other produce because it speeds up the ripening process.
   4.If you're planning on freezing produce, do it immediately after you buy it. Be sure not to overload your freezer with non-frozen produce, as it will bring the temperature of the freezer down.

9.What do you do during the winter?

Winter is a time used to plan and prepare for the growing season to come. During the winter we prune broken limbs and branches so the healthy branches that remain can absorb the maximum amount of sunlight.

10. What do you do to keep your soil and land healthy during every growing cycle?

One of the easiest and most natural ways to keep the land and soil healthy is to protect its natural ecosystem. When the land is abundant with natural wildlife and good pests, it helps keep the soil in balance. Another way to keep the soil healthy is to manage the water resources efficiently so the land does not flood and making responsible choices about the application of soil additives.

11.How do Nature’s Partner® farmers help one another?

Nature’s Partner® farmers are located in countries around the world in both the northern and southern hemisphere – Chile, Mexico, Guatemala, New Zealand, Argentina, Peru, the U.S., Canada and many other countries. They exchange notes on matters such as new varieties, irrigation techniques, harvesting and packing. They also visit one another’s farms so they can learn firsthand how to grow the best fruits and vegetables.

12. What do Nature’s Partner® farmers have in common?

Nature’s Partner® farmers share many common values. They have all been growing for generations and they all strive to combine the best of nature and leading edge technology. None of Nature’s Partner® growers are involved with GMO (genetically modified plants); they all breed new varieties using natural growing methods.