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Have you noticed the birds in the last week? All of a sudden, the energy and movement seem to be up. It seems like they're telling us Spring is on its way. The blossom on the fruit trees are saying it’s here already!
Changing of seasons means changes in the paddocks, and in the food boxes. Growers for the Summer season start to clean off the boots and get ready for turning in green manure and preparing seedlings.
We associate Spring with new growth, abundance, warmth, awakening.
And so it’s always a surprise when we don’t see a huge abundance in Spring season veg.
Despite the change in weather, we are usually left with mostly produce from the Winter season, and it seems to take forever for the new crop to arrive. What happens?
Well it makes logical sense really.
Spring is when growers are planting. Not harvesting. That happens in Summer.
Winter harvests of root veg like carrots, beetroot, parsnip, potato, turnip occur right through Winter, until the soil starts to warm up.
And the Winter brassicas of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli are regular inclusions in the Winter food boxes.
Come Spring we are relying on late season root veg, or the growers stored crop, along with dwindling brassicas and any new greens that start to come through - normally we have plenty of kale, spinach and silverbeet around this time.
This is the time of year when the veg boxes look a little less "voluminous" - and we start to hear from folks that "the value just doesn’t seem like it used to".
So, we end up with this "gap". You could call it the "Spring gap" also known as the "Spring famine". Winter crops are finishing, but it’s too early for the Summer crop to be picked.
Welcome to swings and roundabouts of eating with the seasons.
Less variety, and less local produce availability, mean for higher grower prices and the boxes looking pretty similar each week for a little while.
You will see higher prices across the board in Spring, and near the end of Winter.
Compared to some of the prices a month ago, here are some of differences we've noticed.
broccoli - up 80% in 30 days
cauliflower - up 110%
onions - up 35%
mandarins - up 10%
cabbage - down 25%
potato - down 10%
beetroot - down 15%
celeriac - down 5%
carrots - down 15%
zucchini - down 20%
kale - down 20%
oranges - down 10%
tangelo - down 10%
turnip - no change
sweet potato - no change
pumpkin - no change
apples - no change
kiwi - no change
pears - no change
You can see from the snapshot a large jump in broccoli and cauliflower, due to lower crop yield at this time of year.
This doesn't change a lot until the consistent warm weather starts. And by then local growers will be picking beans, eggplant, tomato, corn, cucumber and all the start Summer crops.
If you've been through a season or two with us, this is nothing new. You have noticed the ups and downs of the boxes as the seasons change.
Chances are you enjoy the changes.
All about perspective, I guess. We call it Spring Famine. But we know we're not going to starve. Its only for a few weeks.
And you know that come the end of those few weeks, you'll start to see the beginnings of the Summer abundance - the excitement of new peach season, all the salad vegies, ripe tomatoes from Daylesford and the sweetest sweet corn from Blampied.
So as you open your veg box and think you can't take one more beetroot or turnip, know that for every turnip you see, you are one more week closer to a freshly picked rosy-ripe tomato.