Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #15, 5/30/18

What’s been going on!

Almost to June and the Farm to Fork Picnic is nearly here this Sunday.  A little different set up this year, back to just the actual picnic this weekend with the other events spread out across the year.  It makes it much easier on everyone involved- farmers, chefs and eaters.  The last two years, with three events all on one weekend, wore everyone down.  Still at the Fearrington Village for the shade and cover from rain in case that occurs.

The event is an important fundraiser for beginning farmer training programs at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and the W.C. Breeze Family Farm Agricultural Extension & Research Center.  Betsy and I serve on the Board of Advisors for CEFS and have been very involved with this event from the beginning.  We are again paired with our good friends at Pizzeria Mercato.  Tickets are still available and it is guaranteed to be tasty and fun.

May rains bring June tomatoes or something like that, it is for sure bringing lots of big blueberries which has been our main focus all week, we have been picking every day except Saturday trying to beat the rains and get them off the bushes in peak condition.  This is the peak week and so far the rains have held off every morning and we have just enough pickers to get the job done but we will be happier when we only have to pick tomatoes!

Picture of the Week

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Damp Blueberries

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #16, 6/1/17

What’s been going on!

We made it to June and the Farm to Fork weekend is upon us and it will be fun and delicious and lots of work especially for Betsy who has been busing with the planning committee and in pulling together flowers and flower donations so she can make the many arrangements that will grace all three events spread over three days.

The Farm to Fork weekend is the primary fundraiser for beginning farmer training programs at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and the W.C. Breeze Family Farm Agricultural Extension & Research Center.  This is our 10th year of the Picnic and we have managed to raise a lot of money to help new farmers get on the ground.

The first two events are already sold out but there are still tickets available for Sunday’s Picnic at Fearrington Village.  For Friday’s event at the Bridge Club in Raleigh we are paired with our friend Scott Howell of Nana’s Restaurant where he is making a golden beet borscht for one of the five courses.

Sunday we are really proud to be working with another long time friend, Gabe Barker and Pizzeria Mercato where he is putting together a calamari and chickpea salad with our spring vegetables. It might even include some of our first ever purple artichokes!  Hopefully we will see you on Sunday as we will all be there helping to serve food and talk sustainable food and farming.

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Artichokes and agrostemma on a beautiful day

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 13 #16, 6/2/16

What’s been going on!

Our kingdom for some sun!  Flowers won’t bloom and tomatoes won’t ripen, argh!  The only good things are the temperatures are a bit more moderate and the newly transplanted peppers have had the perfect conditions to get over the shock of planting.

Two busy weekends ahead.  This weekend is the big The Farm to Fork Picnic Weekend featuring three events in 3 days, including a talk by Deb Eschmeyer from Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative on Friday in Saxapahaw (sold out), a dinner at “The Durham” with Sam Kass, President Obama’s former personal chef and assistant White House chef on Saturday and the always amazing Sunday Picnic.  We are paired with Brendan Cox and Oakleaf restaurant, it will be great tasty fun!

Next Sunday the 12th, we are doing the first Farmer and Chef Mashup at the Midway Community Kitchen, with Al from Al’s Burger Shack to raise money for Heavenly Groceries.  We are thinking of it as a “Sunday dinner” with lots of side dishes from vegetables from the farm and other good things.  $65 with wine pairings, it will be a really good time.

Pictures of the Week

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Even the bees have to work in the Campanula when it’s cloudy

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Happy peppers in the no till section of the field

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #14, 6/10/15

What’s been going on!

The Farm to Fork weekend was a great success.  Long and tiring for those of us who help to put it on but all three events turned out really well and it seems as if all the participants had a good time.  We did not attend Friday night’s dinner at Duke Gardens but all reports were that the food from the five chefs was all fabulous and rumor is our blueberries were in the desert!

Saturday was a long day with market and then the Sustainable Ag. Lecture at the new Rickhouse event space in Durham.  Beautiful space, great talk from Paul Greenberg about the state of the fishing industry and local fish, I need to fine time to read his book.

Sunday could not have been a more beautiful day for the Picnic and it went off without a hitch.  Of course it was impossible to get around to sample all the dishes but everything we had was tasty.  We had a great time with our friends from ACME restaurant and our Trotter Shotters were a bit hit.  Corned pig trotters over a smoked green onion grits soufflé with a fennel and torpedo onion salad on top.  By the end of the weekend we were ready for a rest!

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Set up and ready for the crowds

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #12, 5/28/15

What’s been going on!

We hope that everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend and took full advantage of the amazing weather.  We missed the newsletter last week as we were pushing hard to get the peppers all planted before last Friday, almost.  Just 3 beds shy of finishing but the rest were tucked in the ground on Monday.  Perfect conditions for transplanting the 2800 plants, which got a big watering in with yesterday’s 1.5” of rain.

This week’s big push is blueberry picking!  Despite the cold spring they started right on time and with force this week and we are working hard to find enough people to get them harvested.  Five folks out there today and maybe as many as eight tomorrow.  They look good, lots of big fruit.

Only barely over a week left to get your tickets to any one of the three (or all of them) Farm to Fork Weekend events.  Expanded this year to three days to raise even more money for training programs for new farmers.  It starts on Friday (6/5) with a special five chef dinner at Duke Gardens.  Saturday evening is the very affordable CEFS Sustainable Ag. Lecture with fisheries expert Paul Greenberg and a tasty fish dinner.  Then Sunday of course is the Picnic itself, we are working with our friends at ACME this year and the food will be great!  If you can do all three there is a discounted price of $275, for an incredible selection of foods, farmers, chefs and discussion.

Pictures of the Week

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Two very happy pepper planters, Lacey and Jennie headed to the field

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Maybe the best Campanula we have ever grown

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #7, 4/17/15

What’s been going on!

A week of rain, at least that is what it feels like, really just two days this week and just over an inch of precipitation but the psychological effect is the same.  The laser focus this week has been to get the big planting of tomatoes in the ground, by the end of today the job will be done.

Sunday we got the last of the structural components on the Big Tops so that Monday we could get the plastic pulled on before the forecasted rain arrived on Tuesday.  The covering went beautifully with hardly any wind and our crack four person crew worked together like we had done it for years.  Late on Monday I tilled the beds for the final time, ready to be covered with fabric.

Tuesday morning we tested the irrigation, put down the landscape fabric and laid out the 144 metal T-posts for the trellis.  Wednesday Jennie and Lacey did the yeowoman’s task of driving all those T-posts and hanging the 1600 feet of field fence we use for tomato trellis.  Done, ready to plant.  Thursday was so wet and cool that we decided to pause a day and plant this afternoon.

Interwoven into the week we had two classes to teach, Wednesday farmers’ market and two board meetings.  One of the meetings was the Farm to Fork Picnic planning group where the pairings of farms and chefs was done.  This year we are working with our friends from ACME for the first time, it will be a fun time for sure!  Check out the Farm to Fork website for all the details on the expanded 3 day event.  The Picnic itself is still on Sunday June 7th but this year we have added a special dinner on Friday night and the CEFS Sustainable Ag. Lecture on Saturday night with fisheries expert Paul Greenberg and a fish dinner.  You can buy tickets for the whole weekend or pick and choose which event you want to attend.  All for the good cause of raising money to train new farmers.

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Another grey day but everything is ready for tomato planting

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #14, 6/13/14

What’s been going on!

A wet week with well over two inches of rain.  After the first few small rains the taller pepper plants were beginning to think about tipping over if we didn’t get some trellis on them.  I had a fitful sleep on Tuesday night as yet another storm slipped by to our north, worrying it would be the one to lay the plants down.  Wednesday morning after getting ready for market we jumped on the pepper trellis and got the first layer on the tallest eight beds, a few of which had fallen over.  None too soon as the big storms of that afternoon would have certainly flattened them with the big winds and 1.7” of rain, instead they are standing straight and tall.

It is good to see real tomatoes on our kitchen counter again.  We had to use the first ten pounds of the season for our dish at the Farm to Fork picnic so our only taste was the inaugural BLT last Friday.  Running about a week behind normal due to the cooler spring but they look really good.  Another round of BLT’s on Monday and then last night the first of the summers tomato and basil risottos, it is beginning to look a lot like tomato season!

The Farm to Fork picnic was great.  The weather was a miracle both for the rains that turned away from us at the last minute and the resulting pleasant low 80 degree temperatures.  Bret Jenning’s, of Elaine’s on Franklin, savory combination of our beets, carrots, fennel and leeks as a filling wrapped in our Summer Crip lettuce with a medium spice salsa of the tomatoes, cilantro and our smoked dried chipotles was amazing.  Think of it as a roll your own lettuce taco.  Chased by the blueberry, ginger and basil lemonade and it was a perfect combination.  Thank you Bret and all of the picnic goers for supporting local farms and the training of new farmers.

Picture of the Week

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Proud and straight peppers

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #9, 5/9/14

What’s been going on!

Jennie and Liz say that I have to be more upbeat when it comes to the newsletter; I say I am just reporting what is going on here at the farm occasionally with some editorial comment.  Hey, it’s like a reality TV show but in real time, what happens is sometimes not under our control and I tend not to sugarcoat things.  To that end, we have had a great week and been going like a house a fire getting a lot done.

There is always a week in the spring when all of a sudden the pace quickens, normally it is a few weeks earlier in April but this is the week.  Usually it corresponds with the beginning of deliveries to Weaver Street Market and warmer weather.  It is later this year due to the cooler spring and the fact that all of us local farmers were delayed getting most of our springs crops in the ground because of the wet conditions and the cold.  I have been predicting that the next few weeks will be spectacular at market with everyone harvesting huge amounts of produce, the heat this week will just push things along faster.

Lots of planting this week with the big winter squash field going in yesterday and more lettuce and flowers going in today and tomorrow, another half an acre all together.  Of course with the heat we are having to irrigate everything to keep it moving and still setting up irrigation in the new crops too.  Mowing, markets, deliveries it’s all happening now, compounded with the addition of Graduation and Mother’s Day festivities this weekend, we are running fast.

Just one month out from the Farm to Fork Picnic.  This year we are paired with our friend and good customer Bret Jennings from Elaine’s on Franklin.  We are still working on our menu items but for sure a blueberry desert and something savory.  Get your tickets now while they are still available and help raise money for new and beginning farmer programs at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and the Breeze Farm in Orange County.

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Jennie and Liz planting flowers, the winter squash in the next block all down in the creek bottom field

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 10 #19, 6/12/13

What’s been going on!

While officially summer starts a week from Friday there are a few signals that always indicate to me that summer is really here.  Hot temperatures, shorts all day every day, multiple T-shirt days, light until 9:00, fireflies and most important to us real tomatoes!  The first day over 90 today, someone said the latest that has ever occurred, check, all the rest has been happening for some time but tomatoes until this week.

We have had a few ripe tomatoes over the last week or so but we waited until last night to have the first tomato sandwich dinner.  We each have our own versions but mine is BOT- bacon, our red onions and tomatoes.  Toasted bread, mayo, slices from the heart of the tomato, salt and pepper.  The rest of the tomato I cut into large chunks and have as a side to the sandwich with just a bit of salt so I can taste just the pure fruit and judge where we are in the season.  As to be expected the earliest fruit are not quite as juicy or full flavored as they will be later in the season when the heat really hits but are still so much better than any tomato we have had since our last ones nearly nine long months ago.  Let the debauchery begin.

The Farm to Fork picnic went off smoothly last Sunday, the monsoons moved out and the day was beautiful.  Some really great dishes were served up and the crowd was happy and spread out with lots of room to roam.  Our Smoked Turkey sausage crostini and Early Summer borscht was well received with many folks saying that it was their favorite dish.  We had a great time with Scott and Aubrey from Nana’s and thank them and everyone who participated to make it a great event and raise needed funds for new farmer training.

Picture of the Week

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Rob from Chicken Bridge Bakery was indicative of the enthusiasm and skills displayed at F2F

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 10 #18, 6/5/13

What’s been going on!

OMG the Blueberries!  We saw this train coming and haven’t been able to get enough folks to push the car off the tracks fast enough.  Now I will admit that the organizing of the blueberry picking crew is free form but has always worked out with enough hands.  It is hard to both accurately predict when and how many berries there will be and with only a three week season, it is equally hard to get people who will organize their whole lives around a part time, mornings only job.  But for years we would have a few key folks who would then bring their friends and others would show up for a day or so and it has worked.

This season we have the key people and they have tried to shake their networks but it has resulted in just a few extra pickers.  Combined with one of, if not the biggest, crops we have ever had and it is now all hands on deck to try and get the berries off the plants before they hit the ground.  When all of us, including Betsy, are picking berries every morning you know we are in trouble.  Fortunately the weather is also not blistering hot and ripening the berries even faster.  This too we will survive but the resulting lack of attention to the other chores on the farm means there will be repercussions we will have to deal with in the weeks and months to come.  Oh well there will be good eating in the meantime.

Farm to Fork Picnic coming up this Sunday, still time to get your tickets as it is not quite sold out, yet.  Delivered the turkeys to Nana’s last week so they could get on with making the Smoked Turkey Sausage.  Tomorrow we will take them the vegetables for the Early Summer Vegetable Crostini and the Quick Fennel pickle that will top the sausage.  The weather looks really good for early June and it should be a great afternoon as always.

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More berries than leaves and Liz picking as fast as she can

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