Peregrine Farm News, Vol. 13 #22, 7/13/16

What’s been going on!

Betsy says that I need to bring home a good bottle of Champagne tomorrow after I deliver.  We are generally not celebrators of things, you know birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and the like but this occasion seems worth marking.  Tomorrow will be Betsy’s and Peregrine Farm’s last delivery of wholesale flowers.

For 29 years, since they opened their doors, Betsy has grown flowers and made bouquets and growers bunches for Weaver Street Market.  In the early years we were the entire floral department and would deliver from late April up into the fall.  We also delivered to three Whole Food stores and various florists but gave them up years ago as we began to concentrate more of our efforts on the Farmers’ Market.  That was a lot of bouquet making for sure.

As part of our transition plan for the farm we are reducing Betsy’s workload and schedule.  That means no wholesale flowers and only growing flowers for the market.  Betsy has harvested every flower that has ever come off the farm for 31 years; that is a lot of wear and tear and time.  We think she deserves a break and someone else to pick some of those flowers.

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She is not quite done picking flowers yet though, Celosia and Lisianthus

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 13 #11, 4/27/16

What’s been going on!

And so it starts again.  Tomorrow I will cut and deliver the first lettuce to Weaver Street Market for this season.  This year marks a quarter of a century we have been growing lettuce for Weaver Street, every spring the dance is the same.  A short dance as it only lasts 4 weeks, the prime growing conditions for standard lettuce varieties here in the Piedmont.

The perfect growth conditions for all of the spring vegetables, if you could hold them in a climate controlled place, is an average air temperature of 60-65 degrees, we have that here for about 20 days from mid-April to mid-May.  Once that average temperature goes over 75 it is too hot for quality lettuce except for a few hot weather varieties.  So by the end of May, all of the cool season crops are on the way out.  Every market day, at this time of year, folks always comment on how beautiful and lush the lettuces look and it is because we are in the heart of the best conditions.

Leaf lettuces are the sixth most consumed vegetable per person and rising which makes it an important crop for us and for the grocery store.  So for that reason you will find me in the lettuce field cutting lettuce four mornings a week, Mondays and Thursdays for afternoon delivery to Weaver Street Market and Wednesdays and Fridays for Farmers’ Market and the restaurants.  I expect everyone to be eating a lot of salads over the next month!

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Not lettuce, Jennie and Tricia harvesting turnips and more for Wednesday market

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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

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