Despite December freeze, pilot farm at Coachella Valley High ready for harvest

December 24th, 2013 | by Brett Kelman

The inaugural crop of a small farm at Coachella Valley High School, planted in part by students, has narrowly survived the December cold.

This farm is pilot project, the result of a partnership between the high school and Hidden Harvest, a Coachella Valley charity that gleans unwanted produce from fields for use by food banks. The farm is Hidden Harvest’s first foray into growing its own food.

Crops at the pilot farm wait for harvest, still very much alive despite cold nights.

The charity planted its first crops — cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower — in October. Students from the high school’s agriculture program helped plant the crops, literally getting their hands dirty at a real farm.

But a few chilly nights months could have brought disaster to the pilot project.

A head of cabbage from the pilot farm, nearly ready to be picked. (Photos provided by Gideon Cohn, Hidden Harvest.)

Coachella Valley temperatures dipping uncommonly low during the first half of December. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures near the high school dipped into the 20s, reaching falling to 21 degrees on Dec. 10.

Gideon Cohn, who runs the pilot farm for Hidden Harvest, said last weekend he was worried that the chilly temperatures may  have damaged the crops.

It turns out they are fine. A harvest is planned in January.

“… We had several nights of freeze here and many crops were suffering, but these crops (brassicas) are quite tolerant and there was no damage to the crop,” Cohn wrote in a Monday e-mail.