By Bobbie Whitehead
Local growers now have some of the popular fall crops such as kale, collards and cabbage for sale at markets and roadside stands.
Also called Cole crops, the leafy and green vegetables serve as a favorite side dish, providing many cancer-fighting components, which have increased their popularity.
In Suffolk, Lee Evans of Evans Farms has 30,000 collard, 2,000 cabbage, and 3,000-4,000 broccoli plants growing. Evans already has kale for sale along with pumpkins, gourds, Virginia apples and a second crop of butterbeans.
“The collards are growing well, but they're not ready just yet,” Evans said. “But we will have broccoli, cabbage and kale around Thanksgiving.”
Cole crops grow well in the area, and with temperatures cooling, some growers say they’ll have to worry less about pests.
At Grayson and Emma’s Garden Spot in Courtland, Neil Drake has some kale for sale and is expected to harvest more in a week. Collards in Drake’s Courtland fields should be harvested soon.
Drake also sells cooked collards in quart jars – the collards are cooked with ham and usually begin selling by the first of November. Grayson and Emma’s Garden Spot also sells cabbage pretty much year round.
The Suffolk City Market & Country Store also has kale, collards and cabbage for sale.
Howard Piland, owner of B & H Produce, has a shop in the Suffolk City Market and continues to harvest kale, collards, cabbage, turnip greens as well as turnips.
Along with the Cole crops, Piland also has fresh leaf lettuces such as red oak, green oak, romaine and mustard for sale – though they are not Cole crops, and Piland said he’ll have arugula in a week.
“Fresh greens are my specialty, and I just change up and try different things,” Piland said.
In Isle of Wight County, Joe Joyner has plenty of kale and collards on his farm along Route 258 near Carrsville Highway.
Joyner said he expects to have kale through the beginning of cold weather.
With the high nutrient value, Cole crops such as cabbage, kale and broccoli have become popular menu items, especially for people wanting to take advantage of their cancer-fighting properties.