Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #34, 11/8/18

What’s been going on?

So it looks like the first killing freeze of the season is finally going to hit us on Saturday night, only a few weeks later than usual.  The National Weather Service is calling for 28 degrees at the farm, it usually takes 27 or 28 degrees to finally kill the warm season crops like peppers or the toughest of warm season weeds.

I can say that to a person the market farmers are more than ready for this stage of the growing season to be over with.  Universally everyone we talk to has had a difficult growing year with generally too much water and erratic weather.   Following 2017, which was a banner year, it has made it even harder to work through the strangeness of 2018.

That doesn’t mean we are done for the year, the crops left in the ground now are solidly established and short of (which I should probably not even whisper) an extreme dip into really cold weather should all be happy to the end.  We are hoping for a least a few weeks of mildish weather to complete some projects that we just didn’t get to earlier in the season when it was just too ugly to contemplate starting them.  Fall always seems to tumble down this way.

Picture of the week


A radiant fall day

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #33, 11/1/18 the Italy edition

What’s been going on!

 Whew!  We are back and it has taken most of the week to recover from the return travel.  Another great trip to Italy where we had the best weather of any of our times there.  We started with five nights southeast of Turin in the Barolo wine country where we visited several large markets


and ate some fantastic meals all with variations on the Piedmontse style of cooking which typically includes lots of raw beef, very fine pastas, hazelnuts and of course peppers.


We then moved east to Emilia-Romanga for three nights where we saw several more markets and a few museums and had great meals in Modena, Parma and in the countryside.  There the food is centered on hams, prosciutto and parmesan cheese along with excellent pastas.


After dropping the Barkers at the airport Betsy and I went back down to Turin to visit with our farm friends who we have not seen in five years.  They of course gathered the whole clan for a typical dinner with 17 people.  Exhausted from so much good eating we made our way back home.


Jennie of course did a great job of running the farm while we were gone including the final pick of the pepper field and the taking down of all of the pepper support and removal of the plants.  There was a frost while we were gone, not cold enough to really kill warm season plants but definitely low enough to mark the end of their production.

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #32, 10/10/18

What’s been going on! 

A lot going on the next few weeks.  First we are ready for the next tropical storm rains coming today and tomorrow.  Greens are being picked this morning to spare them the bruising from heavy rain and splashing soil, peppers can wait until Friday.  The little tunnels are closed down just in case we get higher wind gusts than expected.  The good news is that this storm is moving fast and by Friday afternoon the sun will be out and I am seeing 49 degrees as the low for Friday night!  Definitely the silver lining.

Saturday will be the unveiling of the Carrboro Farmers’ Markets mini-museum celebrating the 40th season.  We had hoped to have it up a few weeks ago but hurricane Florence side tracked us a bit.  We are very excited about the timeline and all the pictures and documents that go along with it.  Our biggest market supporter Kelly Clark of Laser Image Printing and Marketing has worked very closely with us on all of it and it will be fantastic.  The Gazebo at market will be turned into the timeline museum this Saturday, make sure that you check it out and it will be a beautiful fall day!

No newsletter for the next two weeks as Betsy and I will be in Italy with our friends the Barkers.  Never enough research can be done on Italian crops and food.  Betsy says we will be on the red wine and prosciutto cleanse.  This time we are going back to the Piedmont and then over to Emilia-Romagna.  There is a farmers’ market every day to be explored along with seed stores.  I hope that we can make it to the Tomato Museum near Parma.  We will finish with a visit with our Italian farm family near Turin.  So look for Jennie and the crew on Saturdays and if you need anything don’t hesitate to send an email as all three of us will see it.  I will post pictures on Facebook and Instagram too.

Picture of the Week P1040429

The little tunnels all closed up for the impending storm

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #31, 10/4/18

What’s been going on! 

Welcome to Augtober as they called it on the news this morning.  While it is not unusual to have temperatures in to the high 80’s well into October the average high for us at the farm is more like the mid 70’s.  Fall will come, fall will come, fall will come soon we hope.

We do have the late mornings and low angle light of fall.  The day length drops over 2 minutes a day through the month of October losing a whole hour of light by the time November arrives, it is an amazing change to both people and crops.  The last of the fall crops are going into the ground this week, lettuces and radishes for December, with the lettuces in the sliding tunnels to protect their growth as the temperatures eventually drop.

In the next few weeks we will begin planting and seeding crops for next spring, over wintered flowers like Larkspur and Sweet William and bulbs like Anemones and Ranunculus.  Despite the current high temperatures, effectively the 2018 season is now being wrapped up with no new crops going into the soil.  It is all about cultivation, which is less as the weeds are slower to grow not too, and harvest for market.  Fall is here by the calendar if nothing else.

Picture of the Week


The last of the lettuces going in the ground on a dark morning

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #30, 9/28/18

What’s been going on! 

Another gray and wet day but the light is at the end of the tunnel starting tomorrow with next week looking beautiful with lows in the 60’s and highs in the low 80’s and sunny, not quite pure fall but closer.  It’s been a bit hard to get a lot done in the field between the showers but the crew plugged on.

Betsy and I spent the middle of the week at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG) conference in Raleigh.  The ASCFG is the national trade group for cut flower growers and this was their 30th year.  Betsy is one of the original members and has both built wonderful long time friendships with other growers in the group but also helped build the Association by serving on the board, organizing the national conference and serving as Executive Director of the Research Foundation.

She had a good time visiting with old friends and attending some of the educational sessions.  I am always a happy second fiddle with her at these flower grower meetings but I did present on soil management which is an important and universal subject that all farmers need to have a good knowledge of.  It is great to see so many young and new growers just starting on the journey of farming.

Picture of the Week

IMG_20180928_081436 Thank goodness for indoor crops, Fennel and Celery looking good

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #29, 9/20/18, Post Hurricane Florence

What’s been going on!

Another storm unlike any other.  While we were spared the worst of it, there are many people down east who were not, including farming friends of ours.  There will be a lot of money raised, donations and time given but most of the farming community will not be the focus of all that generosity.  Our friends at the Rural Advancement Foundation International are already working on helping farmers in the disaster area and need your donations to support their work.  This is one of the main things that RAFI does, come to the aid of farmers in crisis and assist them through all the red tape involved when their farms are in danger of being lost.

Our damage has been limited to just too much rain, nearly 8 inches with the 4 inches Sunday night and Monday morning sending the creeks and the Haw River way over their banks but that is not news to most people especially in Orange and Durham counties.  Jennie and I did a field walk this morning and some crops look better than others with the lettuces that were almost ready to harvest looking hard hit and beginning to bolt or go to seed, which is a reaction to stress.  Time will tell how the other crops respond but the peppers still look good.

The Haw River came way out of its banks and was supposed to crest somewhere near 26 feet but the gauge failed so it is hard to know exactly.  If it did get that high it would be the 8th highest ever recorded and the deepest since hurricane Fran.  It completely filled our bottom field and was certainly in the top 3 or 4 floods we have seen down there.  We had pulled the irrigation pump and there were not crops down there so fortunately for us really no damage.  Let’s hope fall will settle down and be pleasant.

Pictures of the Week

IMG_20180917_163943 Near high tide, it came up another 2 feet from this point

IMG_20180920_083652This is where the irrigation pump normally sits, the water was over the meter, neck deep, if you look close you can see the bathtub ring on the trees

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #28, 9/12/18

What’s been going on!

So now we wait.  All the storm preparations that we can do have been done.  The Big Tops have been uncovered.  The irrigation pump has been brought up the hill.  Everything that could possibly blow around has been gathered up and stowed in the workshop.  All the transplants have been moved into the greenhouse and all vehicles are gassed up and will be parked out in the field.  The chainsaw is tested and ready to go.  The staff is out picking peppers to store in the walk in cooler.  The last project will be to clamp the little tunnels down tight, probably tomorrow morning.

Like most folks we have been looking for days at Florence’s track and saying hurricane Fran, looks just like Fran but worse.  Those of us who lived through Fran are still scarred by the storm and the work afterwards.  But now, fingers crossed, it is looking like it will move across South Carolina instead.  We will still have winds in the 40 mph range and a lot of rain but hopefully there will not be as many trees down and the power will only be out for a short time.

With the current forecast we do not plan to be at market on Saturday unless there is a radical shift and change.  The weather looks like it will be windy and rainy, been there, done that, we will stay home and keep an eye on all of our buildings, hoping for the best.  We will be thinking about all of you too, best of luck to everyone, be safe.

Picture of the Week


Big Tops bare and tarps weighted down, the lull before the storm 

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #27, 9/6/18

What’s been going on!

 The long, low angle of the sun these early days of September is the first indication that fall might be on the way.  Still hot and muggy but the fields stay in the morning shade much longer until the sun finally tops the eastern tree line and then the heat really begins to build and the dew finally burns off. Hopefully in a week or two the cooler and drier weather will finally arrive too.

Haven’t talked much about the Carrboro Farmers’ Markets 40th season and anniversary since my March newsletter but in the coming weeks and months look for more events and things about it.  Two weeks from today, on the 20th, is the 7th Annual Market Harvest Dinner which will kick off the 40th events.  The Harvest Dinner is really our community event to bring both market and towns folks together to break bread and celebrate the ties and relationships the market has forged over the years.  To mark the 40th season the tickets have been reduced to $40 and all the money goes straight to supporting Market programing.

The following Saturday (and maybe for several Saturdays) there will be a mini museum in the Gazebo with a big market timeline with pictures and other artifacts from 40 years.  We hope that folks will also add comments and events to the timeline that they may remember from their years coming to market.  Last Saturday the 40th anniversary T-shirt was released with a beautiful mini timeline and graphics.  Lots to remember and celebrate after all these years!

Picture of the Week


The Ginger is ready, look for it at market this week!

What’s going to be at the market?

Full Pepper production now.  Plenty of Red Bells and some Yellow Bells. Fewer Corno di Toros this week in red, yellow and orange. Sweet Cubanelle, Pimiento, Jimmy Nardelo frying peppers and Spanish Piquillo.  Aji Dulce, the habanero without heat.

In hot peppers Passillas, Fresnos, our own Picante Pimiento, Jalapenos and Serranos.  Nice and meaty early season Anaheims and for the Green Chile fans let us know when you are ready for your volume roasts for the freezer.  A drop in Poblano production this week too.

Plenty of the Shishito and Padron appetizer peppers prepared the same easy with a quick blister in a pan then sprinkled with salt and eaten whole.  Get some of both and do your own comparison.

Lots of Summer Crisp lettuce as well as Red Radishes. Our favorite summer green- Callaloo is nearing the end of its run, the green amaranth that we call Jamaican Spinach and is a quick saute. Maybe the last or our sweet Red Onions, great in every dish.  Fairy Tale Eggplants, the striped Nubia and Italian Heirloom Eggplants too.   Fresh Baby Ginger is back for the fall!

The fall flower department is down to a bit of Crested Celosia and Plume Celosia.

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.  Just so you know, sometimes not everything listed will be at the Wednesday market.

Hope to see you all at the market!

Alex, Betsy and Jennie

If you know folks who you think would be interested in news of the farm then please feel free to forward this to them and encourage them to sign up at the website.

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #26, 8/30/18

What’s been going on!

As we claw our way to September, or more accurately swim through the air, it can’t come soon enough as long as the heat and humidity break soon too.  I think the worst air of the summer has come this week, even more brutal after the delicious weather of last week!

While fall planting has been going on for weeks it really begins to ramp up over the next few weeks with lettuce plantings going in every 4 days along with many other crops too.  This is critical timing because if we miss plantings or the days then the crops may never get to their full size before cold weather sets in.  With the days getting short fast the combination of less light and eventual cooler temperatures will bring their growth to a halt.  Fortunately, other than the heat, the dry weather is allowing us to keep things right on schedule.  What goes in now will be at market in November and December.

In an example of how interconnected our local food system is Lacee will not be with us at market on Saturday because she will be getting ready for her wedding on Sunday!  The connections part is that not only did she work at Oakleaf restaurant, one of our major accounts, but her fiancée is the sous chef there too.  She has worked on several other farms in the area including some at the Carrboro Market and they hope to start her own farm soon.  Sometimes it takes a village to raise a famer.

Picture of the Week


 Fall crops in the ground, many more to come 

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #25, 8/22/18

What’s been going on!

OK the rain can stop now!  Fortunately it looks like it will cooperate starting tomorrow.  I have lost track but we are somewhere north of ten inches of rain in the last month.  Luckily we have had enough short dry periods to keep on track with fall planting and in general, while wet, the other crops, especially the peppers are looking pretty good.

Everyone has returned from the August break rested and ready to go for the fall.  Lacee made a few short trips including a run to Knoxville and back.  Jacob made a big loop up to Ohio, over to New York and back.  Jennie made it up to Indiana, Chicago and back.  Betsy and I worked our usual staycation and relaxed quite a bit.

The upcoming weather looks amazing including mid 80’s for Saturday the first day of pepper roasting!  I always dread the first few Saturdays with the roaster as they can be brutally hot but this looks to be maybe the best weather for a first day, ever, in the eleven years we have been doing it.  Remember to come to the stand first to get your peppers into the queue and then when you are finished shopping your roasted peppers will be waiting for you.  If you want a large amount roasted let us know and we will make sure to have them ready for you, they freeze great!

Picture of the Week


Early morning in the pepper patch, waiting for things to dry out

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