Peregrine Farm News Vol. 8 #6, 4/29/11

What’s been going on?

Most weeks this time of year are pretty full but this one feels more so (hence another late newsletter). We are going full steam on all fronts now with Wednesday market added on and this week the deliveries of lettuce to Weaver Street Market stores in Carrboro and Southern Village. This is our 20th spring season of providing lettuce to Weaver Street Market, maybe I will get a silver watch someday. In some ways this wholesale component of our farm is a remnant of the old days when the Farmers Market was not as robust and the restaurants had not yet caught on to the better flavor and quality of local ingredients. We had to produce for grocery stores to generate enough revenue to stay in business.

Almost none of the farmers at the markets these days grow for wholesale and many even eschew working with restaurants. It is a testament to how good the Farmers Markets and CSA’s have been to the bottom line of these farm businesses. Even we have scaled back from four stores to just Weaver Street and the number of products we provide them, really only lettuce and flowers now. There are several good aspects to growing for them, one is it makes us work in a more precise way which gives a tempo to the whole farm. It is like cooking dinner, you have to have all the dishes done at the same time or you can’t sit down to eat. If we say we will have all the lettuce for the stores on a certain day and for a so many weeks, then we better plan, plant and harvest exactly that. Farmers’ Markets and CSA’s allow you to be more relaxed. No lettuce this week? You just won’t have it at market (or in the CSA boxes) and no one will know or really care, you just show up with what you have.

Another important part of having the grocery store customers is it diversifies our marketing options. In seasons like this one is shaping up to be, when every turnip and beet seed germinated, we can offer them our excess production when there is no way the markets or restaurants could use that much product. We are delivering there anyway and so the extra step to find a home for otherwise homeless vegetables is not very big. Many farmers will wear themselves out trying to move the few extra boxes of something leftover from market and in most cases it is not worth the time or money, better off just going home and getting something done on the farm.

Now someday, as we begin to scale Peregrine Farm back and head into our golden years (after I get that silver watch), we will probably even let the wholesale business go too. By then we will just be old characters at the Market, serving up what produce we decide we want to grow that year. Until then I am off to cut lettuce!

Picture of the Week

Lettuce in the early morning light

What’s going to be at the market?

Finally a good looking Saturday at market, you must come see what bounty there is.

The yellow Dutch Iris have come on in a big way to join the blues, beautiful. The first Sweet William and Bachelors Buttons of the season. The Anemones are still giving us lots of great color. Ranunculus with their rose like buds but in yellows and oranges. Betsy may surprise us with the first bouquets of the season too.

A great spring vegetable season! Amazing Spinach and Broccoli Raab, do not miss it. Lettuce is beautiful too; Green Boston, Red and Green Leafs and Romaine. A great supply of the spicy Shunkyo Chinese long and Easter Egg Radishes. The tender, sweet Japanese Turnips are here with gusto.

As a reminder if there is anything that you would like for us to hold for you at market just let us know by e-mail, by the evening before, and we will be glad to put it aside for you.

Hope to see you all at the market!

Alex and Betsy

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