Altitude matters to crops in many ways. The higher elevations are cooler and grow several months behind schedule of the valleys: a farm that grows both at several hundred feet elevation and at the more than 3000 feet elevation of Squaw Valley can have winter and summer at the same time!
Cool nights are characteristic of high altitudes. With less atmosphere to hold in the heat, the crops chill somewhat. This increases sugar deposition in vegetables, making high altitude vegetables just slightly more sweet than low altitude vegetables.
Low altitudes are warmer longer and can yield more fruit longer. Fruit can ripen longer at lower altitudes, making low altitude fruit sweeter than high altitude fruit.
Mountain soils are different than valley soils, too, but this matters less to the flavor of fruits and grains and more to the flavor of vegetables. Which is better? It’s hard to say: some people prefer one to the other, other people like it the other way around. We like to compare it to water: some springs and wells taste better than others, depending on the minerals in the soil. This is why some people prefer the spring and well water of one mountain to another.
If you are curious, let us show you the difference! This week, one of our favorite foods - miner’s lettuce - comes into season and we are glad to show you the difference of high altitude versus low altitude with free samples.
We drive up and down hill all day, burning clean biofuel, spreading the smell of fresh produce and rotten french fries everywhere. Uphill is different than downhill for produce!