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.

Picture of the Week

???????????????????????????????

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

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

Peregrine Farm News, Vol. 10 #16, 5/24/13

What’s been going on!

Last wholesale delivery of lettuce yesterday, after another three inches of rain this week I told the produce managers that if this was a prize fight I would stop it now, so I did.  A record short season for lettuce deliveries to Weaver Street, only three weeks but when it starts late and then it rains two or three times the average something has to give.  It was the lettuce.  That doesn’t mean we are done with lettuce for market, just not enough good looking heads to fill the large orders.  Oh well, time to move on, blueberries are calling.

Farm to Fork Picnic coming up in two weeks, June 9th.  Apparently a lot of folks think that it is already sold out, which it always does but not quite yet, still time to get your tickets.  Not only is this a great food event pairing some of the area’s best chefs with the best farmers to create amazing fresh flavors and food but it also more importantly supports new farmer training programs at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and the Breeze Farm in Orange county where the event is held.

34 pairings this year plus the artisans tent, bigger than last year.  We are excited to be working with Scott Howell from Nana’s in Durham, his first time participating but not his first time at the rodeo as one of the finest restaurants in North Carolina.  We are working on something with turkey (a turkey salami) and of course a vegetable dish hopefully with the first tomatoes of the season.  Don’t let this opportunity pass.

So the rain has held us up on the big job this week, second only to tomato planting week is pepper week.  The beds for the specialty hot and sweet peppers have been prepared with irrigation line and landscape fabric and the cover crop on the no-till beds have been rolled and crimped.  Hopefully it will dry out enough today to plant the fabric beds this afternoon and the forecast looks as if we can get the rest tucked into the no-till area on Monday or Tuesday.  The plants look awesome, at the perfect stage of growth to hit the soil running, let’s hope we can get it done soon.

Picture of the Week

???????????????????????????????

Thousands of pepper plants raring to go

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

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 9 #10, 5/23/12

What’s been going on!

One of those really busy weeks with lots of moving parts.  We did push hard and got all the peppers in the ground by Friday, 2600 plants, 26 varieties, 20 beds, hallelujah!  The change of seasons is upon us as we mowed down and turned under most of the spring vegetables, all of the over wintered flowers and the scary weeds that accompanied them.  The place looks so much better now.

We always get behind during blueberry season and this is when we have a tendency to lose some things to the weeds but the weather was just right the beginning of the week and with the extra help of some blueberry pickers we were able to get most everything weeded and cultivated.  The rain held off just long enough for us to get the next round of flowers planted too.  Six beds of celosia, more zinnias, asters and sunflowers.  With any luck we will plant the winter squash today.

Sandwiched in between was the Farm to Fork picnic on Sunday, which went beautifully.  We had a great time with Seth and Thomas from Pazzo restaurant and the torn Lacinato Kale salad with lemon, olive oil, parmesan cheese got rave reviews.  The weather was perfect and the nearly 700 guests and volunteers all appeared to really enjoying it.

Picture of the Week

Thomas and Seth dishing up the Lacinato Kale salad

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

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 9 #9, 5/16/12

What’s been going on!

Rain, rain go away, comeback next Tuesday (or so).  Fortunately we have had most of our rain fall in non-work hours but it certainly has complicated the weeks scheduling because the, now nearly three inches of, water has made it impossible to get things planted, weeded or mowed.  This was supposed to be pepper planting week, one of the most important of the year.  We have managed to get the field ready with fabric and preparing the no-till section but not a single plant has gone in the ground.  Hopefully some will get planted tomorrow.

In any event it is the season for picking fussy little things.  When Sugar Snap Peas and Blueberries happen at the same time we seem to just go from one to the other trying to keep up with the rapid ripening of thousands of individual fruits.  Picking tomatoes and peppers is so much less tedious and the boxes fill so much faster.  There are good aspects to peas and berries though, they are both stand up jobs, of which there are few on the farm, and usually the weather is pleasant as you keep your hands moving as fast as possible to get as many of the tiny objects into the bucket as you can.  Of course there is the mandatory taste testing that happens too.

There are tomatoes to tie up, flowers to trellis, winter squash to plant but we did finally get the ginger planted indoors yesterday.  When it does dry out the weeds will be of biblical proportions and the mowing required will be Herculean.  So after getting the peppers in the ground we know what we will be doing next week.

 

Picture of the Week

Sweet, sweet peas by the thousands

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

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 8 #14, 6/22/11

What’s been going on?

Heat anyone? High 90’s today, it will be another great afternoon at the Farmers’ Market. At least it looks like the weather will break a little for Farm to Fork on Sunday afternoon, they are calling for 90 with a slight chance of thunderstorms, if we are really lucky it will be like last year when the storms went around us but also helped keep the temperature down a bit. Next year F2F will be back in late May and more reasonable weather chances. By the way, F2F is sold out and did so very early after tickets went on sale so make sure that you look for the announcements next year if you didn’t get a chance this time around.

One group that is happy with the heat are the new turkeys. Yes turkeys are back in the house, literally the brooder house. They arrived last Thursday and look really great. The little day old poults arrive unfeathered, with just their down coats and so they need to be kept around 90 degrees for the first week or two so they don’t get chilled and until they start to grow real feathers. We have heat lamps in the brooder at night but these days we turn them off during the day and they are very happy in there at 95 degrees from the sun.

We have changed up the turkey program a bit this year in that we are only doing the Broad Breasted Bronzes and no Bourbon Reds. I have wrestled with this decision for some time and feel somewhat a traitor for not continuing to help preserve the heritage breeds but there are compelling reasons, quality of life and economics. The Bourbon Reds, while more charismatic and beautiful to look at, are a pain at times to manage because they fly and fight with each other, I am getting too old to be chasing birds around the woods like last year. The other is that they are much more expensive to raise and with feed prices extremely high this year we would have to charge too high a price in my opinion.

On the other hand the Broad Breasted Bronzes are the first step from a heritage bird towards the modern industrial turkey. Yes they can’t naturally breed because of their size but they do very well outside on pasture. They forage pretty well, don’t seem to be anymore disease prone than the Bourbons and take only half the time to reach maturity without flying or fighting. Another factor is that you told us after last Thanksgiving that maybe you even liked their flavor better. So with that in mind we have 70 all singing, all dancing Bronzes in the brooder, now the adventure begins.

Pictures of the Week

The brooder with the window we call turkey TV and the what you see on turkey TV

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

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 7 #12, 5/26/10

What’s been going on?

Thankfully the sun is out today. We need a little drying time to be able to get some things weeded as they are growing before our eyes. Those little weeds and weed seeds had just been hangin’ out during the dry spell waiting. The soil temperature was warm enough, they just needed to have a little water to get going. Wow, here they come! I am afraid to tell the staff what is in store for them today, at least it won’t be too hot to be out hoeing and pulling weeds. Fortunately we have enough blueberry pickers right now so that the guys can work on the other farm chores.

Farm to Fork was big success. The skies dumped rain on Sunday morning but by the time we all got to the field it was puffy clouds and blue sky. The ground was a bit soggy to start but dried quickly as we finished setting up for the event. The event coordinator and the volunteer coordinator had done a meticulous job and everything was totally ready when we arrived at 12:30. Slowly the other farmers and chefs began arriving and what was just a hayfield bloomed into a farmers market/festival site in a hour or so.

Ben and Karen along with their skilled assistants (Amanda Orser and Shelley Collins) arrived and began assembling a beautiful and complicated dish. Much slicing and dicing and arranging on the plates. First a lettuce and spinach sauce/soup ladled on the bottom, then two sugar snap peas, an arrangement of wedges of three colors of beets, radishes and turnips. This was capped with a piece of Ben’s perfectly smoked trout and then a day-glo dollop of fresh ricotta cheese with beets to give it the wild color. We heard much oohing and awing as people ate. Of course Karen’s blueberry compote on cornmeal cake with sorghum buttermilk cream was the ace in the hole to finish them off!

Ben, Karen and staff assembling plates

The final dish

We all had a great time and I think the attendees did as well. It was too much food and it was hard to get around to all the tents. With the silent and live auctions we raised somewhere around $20,000 for the apprenticeship and new farmer programs at the Center for Evironmental Farming Systems and the Breeze Farm. Thanks to all who participated.

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

5/24/07 Vol. 4 #10

Whew! Petrini week is over.  Three days that felt like a week, but it all went beautifully.  Monday was like a normal Friday for us as we harvested almost as many vegetables for the CEFS-Slow Food picnic as we would in getting ready for the Saturday market.  The staff worked a full day (Mondays are generally half days) to make sure we could get everything done because we had lunch guests coming the next day.  You may remember in last weeks newsletter that Carlo Petrini and his Slow Food compadres were going to tour some farms around the area, well we found out on Friday that not only was he going to come see us but also have lunch here on the farm!  Lunch here?  I wondered how the founder of a movement that “celebrates the pleasures of the table” would feel about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  We had a plan, call some one else to help!  It’s not that Betsy and I aren’t good cooks with plenty of great material to work with we just had a few more things going on like helping with all of the events including donating all the flowers for them, oh and we had a farm to run.  We have several good friends who are excellent cooks that we could call on but our first call was to Anne Everitt who you may remember used to be the manager of the Farmer’s Market as well as pastry chef at Elaine’s and Lantern restaurants.  Anne immediately swung into action designing a simple but refined menu using mostly Peregrine Farm ingredients along with other local and NC foods.  With the help of Amy Eller, formerly communications director for the Carolina Farm Stewardship Assoc., they took over our kitchen and chopped, sliced and washed there way to an extremely tasty meal.  The next day, when asked by a reporter what was the best meal he had eaten on his three week tour of the US, he said he thought it might have been the lunch here at Peregrine Farm!

By 1:00, when they arrived, the table was set up under our former pick your own stand in the shade of the huge tulip poplar trees with views of the farm.  We took a short walk around the farm and then retreated to the lunch, Italian style.  We had good discussions with all the Slow Food folks about this area and how lucky we are to have great markets, customers, non-profits and lots of small farmers.  More importantly we were able (Betsy in her hard earned Italian) to speak privately with Carlo about our Italian farm family and their struggle to keep there farm from being sold out from under them.  Their situation is a long and complicated story but since last fall we have been trying to enlist Mr. Petrini’s help.  He is a very influential figure in Italy especially the Piedmont region where our friends farm.  If we could get him to say a few words to the right folks in the regional government it could save their farm of five generations.  He said he had received our letter and had called the regional President but that it was messy situation.  He then promised to contact our friends when he returned to Italy to get the whole story.  At that point he pulled out his cell phone and dialed their number (which Betsy just happened to have in her pocket)…they did not answer.  We feel sure that he will contact them and help when he gets back to Italy!

The rest has been a whirlwind.  As soon as they left the farm we had to rush over to the picnic to get set up including all of the flowers that Betsy, with the great help of Jennifer Delaney, had arranged.  A very enjoyable event with great food and everyone really seemed to enjoy it.  It was hard to believe that there were almost 400 people in that field.  Mr. Petrini and friends seemed to have a really good time and were (I think) further amazed at our local food community.  Yesterday the drum beat continued.  Get ready for the Wednesday Farmers’ Market, which the staff was to be dispatched to while Betsy and I headed to Raleigh for the final two Petrini events.  We had to arrive to the reception early to set up the flowers there too.  The Friends of CEFS reception was well attended which then flowed next door to the final event, Carlo’s presentation about the meaning and value of preserving food traditions, defending biodiversity, and protecting food that is good, clean and fair.  Nearly 1000 people were in attendance, and even though he spoke with an interpreter, they all seemed to take away some important messages.  With it all over we limped home.  We didn’t mange to get any pictures but friends where taking lots so hopefully next week we can have a Carlo Petrini picture of the week.

Picture of the Week
An armload of radishes

6/17/09 Vol. 6 #13

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain.  Good thing we had a rain day yesterday as we are all just now recovering from the Farm to Fork picnic on Sunday.  It looked like a good time was had by all despite the heat.  Not so hot that you just stood there panting but definitely the sweat was running down my brow.  70 plus farmers and chefs cooked and served up an amazing array of small bites from every kind of vegetable pickle to collard green kimchi and barbecued shrimp with bloody Mary sauce to cabrito tacos with heritage corn tortillas.  A pre-event estimate of 650 people were signed up to attend, including the farmers and chefs, not sure if they all showed but a nice chunk of money was raised for the new farmer programs at the Breeze Farm and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.

We had fun, as always, working with Amy Tornquist and Glenn Lozuke from Watts Grocery and Sage and Swift Catering.  We presented a beautiful trifecta of Treviso radicchio leaves with a small piece of Glenn’s house made pancetta topped with some of the first tomatoes of the season; a colorful hand held bitter, salty, sweet salad.  Glenn had boned out an entire pig, stuffed it with herbs and hot roasted it, all night, in a traditional porchetta style and it was amazing.  The third part of the trifecta was a lemon ice cream with a blueberry swirl in tiny little corn meal cones, each with a blueberry in the bottom.

Back here in farm land the rain is holding us up from getting things done.  Blueberry picking was canceled for yesterday and I hope we can get a full morning in today.  We began the onion harvest on Monday but it is too wet to continue until maybe Thursday, it is bad to harvest them when wet and muddy, too much danger of ending up with rotting onions later.  We need to cover the last of the Big Tops this week so we can plant the late tomatoes, the transplants of which are really ready to get into the ground.  Looks like we will blast into summer on Friday when it goes straight to the high 90’s, that’ll dry it out for sure!

Picture of the Week
Pig with snout on the left, radicchio salads in the middle, tiny little ice cream cones on the right.