Peregrine Farm News Vol. 17 #24, 7/2/20

What’s been going on! 

We want to thank everyone who left kind notes and comments, bottles of wine and other good things last week as well as emails and other communications.  For those who were confused (or didn’t read close enough) about if it was our last market ever the answer is no, just for this season and 2020, we will be back in January for what we do intend to be our last season.

People ask “But what about the tomatoes!?!”  Yes there are tomatoes left on the vines and we are picking them as usual but now what is left are going to four restaurants, friends and family and to a food bank.  This planting of tomatoes will produce for about another 3 weeks, maybe 4, to the end of the month but the volume and quality slowly drops off to nothing.  Already the Cherokee Purples and Greens are near the end of their fruiting.  There will be plenty of tomatoes at market, you will just have to find your new favorite producer.

“But what will you do with all your time?”  As Betsy likes to point out we have 26 acres, 4 main buildings and 6 more outbuildings- there are always things to work on, maintain and enjoy.  This summer and fall we have a few large projects including painting the house roof, working on the greenhouse roof, some small projects around the house to go along with cover cropping and soil maintenance, getting the tunnels ready for next season and the endless mowing.

The one thing we won’t be doing much of, we are sad to say, is travel.  We hadn’t planned to do any big trips until after the election in November as we both, but primarily Betsy, are very involved in the local campaigns as we have to get the current bozos out of office, then we can go away with some confidence.  We cannot say too often or too loudly you all must VOTE! And you have to get everyone you know to vote.  On top of that you need to contribute money, volunteer and we are recommending everyone apply for an absentee/mail in ballot.  With Covid-19 it will take some pressure off of the local precincts and be a safer alternative.

It has been possibly the best six months we have ever had business wise.  The warm winter and generally good and long spring led to consistent crops with very few failures or waste.  Combine that with the incredible demand, driven by all of the change to people’s lifestyles because of Covid-19 and it has been a remarkable half a year even if it was a strain physically and mentally.  We sincerely hope that all of the people new to the Farmers’ Market and purchasing local food will continue their new and improved buying habits and not just revert to Food Lion or Costco for all of their produce and meats as the pandemic eases.  We know that a lot will slip back to those old habits but we encourage you to think about how important it is to you, your health and the health of the local food system and economy.

Finally to update our fundraising to contribute to Campaign Zero to help end police violence in America, we ended an impressive month helped with yet more large donations from Ellie and Jim, Jean, Lydia and others.  The final total for the month was $1397 and we rounded it up and have donated $1500!  Thank you all, you have been amazing but don’t stop there in the fight for racial equality!

This pandemic is going to be with us for a long time yet, many months at least and well into next year I am afraid.  We all need to do our part, you know the three W’s, to get this mess under control.  We are pretty much self-isolating for a few weeks and then will begin to have people over for socially distant visits.  We may show up at market to do some shopping but we plan to spend large parts of everyday in what Betsy refers to as the Summer Palace and you can visualize us there, reading, working and enjoying the beauty of the place.

Picture of the week

P1050618Betsy’s hammock is ready on the screen porch, the grill and chairs set on the deck, the creek is babbling away below and the wine is poured!

What’s going to be at Market?

Not us and we will be radio silent for the most part but expect a newsletter from time to time.

Stay safe and well and we hope to see you all at the market!

Alex and Betsy

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. 16 #22, 6/26/19

What’s been going on!

The last week and the last markets for our 2019 season.  It feels odd and unknown in good ways and not at all conflicted.  Betsy and I have not had a summer off since we were 15, nearly 50 years!  That is the unknown part for sure, how will it feel to not have a daily responsibility when it is warm outside?  I am sure we will get used to it.

Now make no mistake we are excellent planners but primarily in the macro and medium scales, we learned long ago that the micro, day to day plans were strictly theory because on a farm, mother nature really dictates how each day will unfold and each week will flow.  As my mother liked to say “life is so daily”.  So we have lived our life each day knowing that “field corrections” would occur, Betsy would say we are good at triage.

We already have plenty on the calendar for the next seven months until we are back at market, the macro plan.  July will first be filled with dealing with the last of the crops, tomatoes and cucumbers to the restaurants, taking it all down and seeding the last of the summer cover crops.  I will also finally start on the long awaited screen porch project.

Late August and early September we will be off on a long trip west to Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  Back in time to get the beds and soil prepared for next season and seeded to the winter cover crops and to enjoy the brilliant fall weather before we head off to Mexico on a family trip the end of October.

November and December we will slowly start up the next growing season with planting the anemones and ranunculus and the first rounds of vegetables in the sliding tunnels, while the greenhouse starts to fill with transplants.  January sees weekly planting and tending of the winter crops and then we will be back to market in early February.  In between there will be short trips and other diversions.

We will not be strangers as you will see us from time to time at Market including next week at Tomato Day, in the aisles at Weaver Street Market, at a table at Pizzeria Mercato or other places around town and we will send out a newsletter once a month or so to bring you up to date on what we are doing.  We thank you for your support and encouragement as we head into this new strange world.

Picture of the Week P1050076Still a lot of Sungolds out there but at the very tops of the plants

What’s going to be at Market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #39, 12/21/18 The Winter Solstice edition

What’s been going on! 

The first day of winter, woohoo!  Yet again a gray and wet day as we are on our way to or have eclipsed already the wettest year ever recorded depending on the weather station you look at.  We are well ready for this season to be finished.  When I left two weeks ago I had no idea that we would get 11 inches of snow plus rain and ice.  I felt guilty as Betsy was home doing a great job of keeping the little tunnels cleaned off and the power went out for a day and a half.  Just to cap off the year.

A good walk in the desert and time to reflect on where we have been and where Peregrine Farm is going.  Despite the crazy weather season it has been a pretty good year thanks to the dedicated folks we work with and to all of you who support us no matter how bad the conditions at market might be or sometimes how irregular the harvest might seem.  We are grateful for such a brilliant community.

We are appreciative of the time we have spent with Jennie and honored to be able to continue to work this beautiful and productive piece of the earth.  We really hope to see you tomorrow at market to wish you a warm and enjoyable Holiday season.  If not we will see you sooner than it seems in February!

Picture of the Week


The bones of the farm, ready for winter

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #38, 12/5/18

What’s been going on! 

Three more markets and then the 2018 season will be in the books.  Of course the 2019 season is already underway with flower bulbs in the ground and flats of lettuce up in the greenhouse.  We spent parts of the last two days preparing beds in the first of the sliding tunnels to be planted and next week the first lettuce plants will go in to hopefully be ready for mid February.  The 38th year of growing for Peregrine Farm has started.

Looks like a really cold and damp stretch ahead with high temperatures hardly rising above 50 degrees for nearly 10 days and maybe snow on Sunday and or Monday?  Colder than we have been used to lately and more like December used to be years ago.  This is when we are happy to have crops growing undercover in their little terrariums.  Our days now have a steady beat of opening and closing tunnels, covering and uncovering crops.

No newsletter next week as Alex will be out walking in the desert.  Look for Betsy and Jennie at market with the last beautiful produce of the season.  We will all be there on Dec. 22nd for our last market of this year and to wish you all a happy holiday.

Picture of the Week


A blustery day with the last of the outdoor crops covered for the impending cold

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 8 #26, 9/22/11

What’s been going on?

A gray and somber way to end our season but the rains are once again perfectly timed for winter soil preparation. We got the last big pepper harvest done yesterday before the downpours and all that remains to be picked are poblanos and eggplant. Next week we will make one last pass through the field to glean the last of the peppers, primarily green bells that we will sell wholesale. This morning the last of the tomatoes are coming off the vines and then the remaining five rows of plants and trellis will be torn down.

By the end of next week it will all be gone. The last Big Tops uncovered and the hoops moved from one field to another. All the trellises will be deconstructed and neatly stacked for the winter. The few sweet potatoes that we grew will be dug and curing in the greenhouse. Turkeys will have moved to their last pasture. All the fields will be mowed and probably even disked for the first pass in the process of getting ready for winter cover crops. Even Betsy will fly out on Saturday for three weeks in Italy, leaving me home to finish up the last of the farm winterization.

And so ends another season, the 30th season, at Peregrine Farm. Of course we are not ever really finished, just a temporary lull in the action. We will be back for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving market to pass out the turkeys along with lots of great vegetables for the holiday meal and there may even be some guest appearances in December if there are crops available and then it all starts again in February with Betsy’s anemones and ranunculus.

In general it has been a great season, one of the best in memory. Sure a little tough out there in July and the ongoing drought has made some things more challenging but overall the crops have been happy, the staff has been happy and hopefully all of you have been pleased with the bounty we have been able to coax from the fields. Betsy and I are always grateful and amazed at your support of what we do and for local food and farming, thank you!

Picture of the Week

This giant volunteer plume celosia, at the end of one of the pepper rows, greets us as we walk out every morning

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 7 #28, 9/22/10

What’s been going on?

So this guy is walking down Summer Blvd. with a set of old directions in his hand. He approaches what should be Fall St. and the directions say he should turn here. He looks left and right and sees, in the short daylight hours, the trees turning color and dropping leaves, it looks like Fall but it could be the drought and even though it is a cool morning the forecast for the days to come are for temperatures still in the 90’s. He is not sure what to do, the directions he has indicate that this should be the turn and way down the street he can make out a sign that says Winter Ave.. A suspicious looking character walks up and whispers that the rumor is that just down Fall St. things really change, you can get all the good stuff-cooler temperatures, shorter days and even…rain!

Welcome to the new first day of Fall, not the way is used to be, we will just have to use our imaginations this year. The forecast is for temperatures in the 70’s on Sunday and Monday with a chance of rain. Being pragmatists we will wait and see. Not much left out in the field and by Friday it will all be gone except for the pepper plants, the turkeys, some vegetables for Thanksgiving and a few rows of flowers for next year. All the Big Tops are uncovered for the winter, almost everything is mowed down, waiting for some moisture so we can disk it in. I ran the last of the irrigation water out of the upper pond to the lower one, just enough to get us to the end. The dock in the upper pond now stands on dry ground. Seems like fall, just doesn’t feel like it.

As you all know by now this is our last week at Saturday Market for the season. Sure we’ll be back on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving for the special holiday market and to pass out the turkeys, and Betsy is threatening to make some guest appearances in December if we still have some produce left but we are turning onto Fall St. and going down it until we get to Winter Ave. Three weeks from tomorrow we will be flying to Italy for the Slow Food Terra Madre conference and after that to Spain to visit markets, eat more great food and search for new peppers to bring home to grow. Between now and when we leave there is still a lot to get done and hopefully I will have time to get another newsletter out but if not look for one when we get back with news of our adventures. As always we cannot thank you all enough for the support you give us and the farm, without you we would not be able to do what we do!

Picture of the Week

The early morning rays on a nearly empty farm

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 7 #25, 9/1/10, Turkey Reservations

What’s been going on?

Ah, September at last and a hurricane on the way, sort of. It was fourteen years ago this week that Fran roared across the Piedmont still carrying 80 mph winds with it as it’s eye passed just east of the farm. Those of us in the area will never forget that storm or the week that followed, cleaning up without power or water. Now our senses are on high alert anytime a big storm is on the track that Earl is on just in case. This time we don’t plan on taking all the plastic off the greenhouses but we are still watching all the storm reports carefully.

As promised early in the year, this week marks the start of Turkey reservations. We always wait until Labor Day when we have a better idea of how many birds will actually be available. By the time they get this old they are usually pretty hardy but even now we can lose some to one thing or another (like the two that died last week). There will only be about 85 birds available this fall with the majority being the larger Broad Breasted Bronzes (about 60). All the information about what kind we have, how much they will be and the order form is now on the Website for easier access.

Look for the order form near the bottom of the page under “How do I reserve one of the special birds?” You can easily download the Word document there. We will also have the order forms at Market on Saturdays through the end of the month. I can also tell you that already, with the “Frequent Flyer” reservations, nearly a third of them are spoken for. I will continue to update how many are available on the website. Don’t wait too long.

Typical end of the season chores going on. The guys are beginning the mulching the blueberries today, later in the week more of the early tomatoes will be taken out. The last of the huge pepper picks will happen the end of the week as this is the peak of the season and there will be much fewer fruit on the plants from here on in. Cleaning up, mowing, getting ready for winter cover crops.

Picture of the Week

What else, turkeys on the morning strut.

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

9/20/06 Vol. 3 #27

What a gloriously beautiful day!  It is these days that we live for, the reason we wanted to work outside for a living, the kinds of days that make farming easy.  Emotions are high these days on both sides of the good/bad divide.  It has been twenty eight weeks since we started market back in March and thirty four since we planted the first spring crops in the field, and more than a year since the first crops for this season were started.  Twenty five years ago last week we signed the papers and closed on this piece of land intent on turning it into a small farm, just months before that Betsy and I got married, what an interesting trip its been!  The night we closed on the farm we camped out here with some friends of ours and it was cool enough (like tonight will be) to have a small fire, plenty of toasting and talk of plans and dreams for the future.  Twenty five seasons now under the belt, it is hard to imagine.  It is almost done now for this year as this is our last week at market other than the special pre-Thanksgiving market.  Only a few crops left in the field which will go under the mower in a few days.  This week I will begin the process of turning under two and a half acres to seed to winter cover crops.  Monday the turkeys go in for processing and into the freezer, in two weeks the farm will be ready for the long winter sleep.

We’re happy that the season is about over.  It has been a fairly good year but challenging at the same time so we are ready for a rest and change of pace.  At the same time we are a little sad that it is over.  We do miss seeing everyone at market, visiting with our chefs and store buyers too.  When the turkeys go away it is a serious day as we have worked with them all year to get to this point but still know that the reason we have them is for eating too.  We will miss working with our staff and talking with them about farming and their futures.  But at fifty years old we are also ready for some quiet time on the farm too, as well as traveling to new places.  So this will be the last weekly newsletter of the season.  We have a full schedule up to Christmas and beyond so look for a monthly report on our off season adventures.  We will send one in October before we head to Italy for the Slow Food conference and traveling around to see Italian markets, farms and restaurants but after I come back from a much anticipated hiking trip to one of  southern Utah’s amazing canyons.  You will get a report before Thanksgiving on what we saw and learned in Italy and to prepare you for the Thanksgiving market.  Then more after that including Betsy’s trip to Kenya to visit some of the largest cut flower farms in the world.  We thank everyone for helping us to do what we do here on the farm, with out your support and business it would not be possible.

Picture of the Week
The long shadows of early fall on nearly empty fields