Welcome to the News of the Farm

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All posts have been categorized by year, or crop or some other way.  If you want to look at all the posts that talk about tomatoes, for example, you can either click on that category in the right hand column or on the word tomatoes at the bottom of the post.

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #40, 12/21/17 The Winter Solstice edition

What’s been going on!

It is always good to go away and view life from a distance in a you can now see the fields for the pepper plants kind of way.  Nothing like a long walk in a completely different environment like the desert to open your mind and thoughts.

As the 36th season rolls to a finish and the 37th already underway in the greenhouse and fields we have a lot to be grateful for.  I am eternally grateful to be with Betsy, to have shared this place and journey with her all these years (and she lets me go away hiking too!).  We are grateful for Jennie’s presence, hard work and partnership with us so that the Farm will continue into the next generation.

We are grateful for this amazingly beautiful and productive piece of land set in a community that values what we do every day.  And we are especially grateful for all of you who eat our food and support our efforts to create a more sustainable agricultural system and local economy, you are the nourishment that allows us to continue to strive to do better.

We hope to be able to greet all of you at market on Saturday but if we don’t have a chance we wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and the rest of the holidays.  We will see you in the New Year for sure!

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Jennie and her hard work

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #39, 12/6/17

What’s been going on!

Just a quick note as Alex is headed out of town for nearly two weeks but wanted to let everyone know that Betsy and Jennie will be at market the next two Saturdays and we will all three be at market on the 23rd for all of your Christmas celebration needs.

It will be an interesting next few days getting ready for market as we could have a bit of snow rolling in on Friday after our first real rain in almost 2 months but Saturday looks sunny and cool.  Finally real December weather and we have been pushing hard the last week to take advantage of the unusually warm days.  Now we are ready.

See you all at market or in a few weeks.

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 Alex will be out walking in the desert, again.

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #38, 11/30/17

What’s been going on!

 Incredibly beautiful days, one after another and we have been getting quite a bit done, construction projects, repairs, a bit of planting.  Today we slide three of the little tunnels over what will be late winter harvested flowers and greens.  The anemones and ranunculus have been in the ground for a few weeks now and are coming up so they are ready for some protection as the temperature will surely drop.

Always a few more winter preparations to take care of.  Time to drain the irrigation system and other water pipes.  Some vehicle and tractor maintenance.  Transplant greenhouse battening getting ready for the late December seedings that will soon fill it up with spring crops, I know hard to believe we are talking about next spring already.  The seed catalogs are pouring in now and soon the 2018 crop planning sessions will begin.

We hope that you all had great Thanksgiving breaks and meals.  We certainly did.  Jennie drove home to Indiana to be with family and on the way back picked up our new mower for the tractor!  We of course stayed close and had good visits with family here in the area and worked on several projects as the weather was too good not to.  Soon it will be real indoor/woodstove season.

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Beautiful lettuces ready to go to market

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #37, Thanksgiving edition 11/20/17

What’s been going on!

Good Monday morning and the start of the biggest food week of the year!  Sorry for no newsletter last week as I slipped out of town for a few days and realized sometime on Thursday that I hadn’t sent the weekly news.  But this one is just in time for the holiday and the Tuesday pre-Thanksgiving market tomorrow from 3:00 to 5:00!

As I look out the window as the sunrises the beech tree leaves are finally turning yellow as the last of the brilliant hickories still hang on to some leaves but all the rest are long since dropped.  Another morning in the 20’s and if it was not already done the warm season crops and weeds are dead now.  Just over a week now since the first killing freeze and the peppers are standing black in the field waiting to be torn down and turned under to make room for next spring’s vegetables. The huge sheets of floating row cover lay draped over the remaining crops, a sure sign of coming winter.

We want to thank everyone who has come to market for the first two Renovation Markets, what great crowds! We know that it is a bit of chaos but it feels like folks are really getting into the adventurous spirit and finding some excitement in our jumbled configuration and the new neighbors we all have on Saturdays.

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Early morning light

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #36, 11/9/17

What’s been going on!

Raw, raw couple of days.  There are experiences in life that etch themselves so deeply into your being that they surface whenever the conditions or situation are similar.  Like knowing that something hot will burn you or that a barking dog with teeth bared can raise the hair on the back of your neck.  Usually these are survival lessons we have learned.

This kind of weather is exactly one of those for Betsy and me.  Our first year farming, in 1982, had been one of excitement and struggle as we planted and tended our first crops while trying to build infrastructure on this blank piece of land.  I was on the farm full time and Betsy was working in the kitchen at the Fearrington House.  In late March we moved into a tent next to the only building on the farm, a 20X20 tin roofed equipment shed that I had built the fall before to house the tractor and tools.  It allowed us to save money on rent and to be here to work as much as we could and not have to commute.

Spring moved into summer and we had to get a real house built but progress was painfully slow between trying to save the crops from biblical weeds, not having two dimes to rub together and building it mostly by myself.  By the end of October we finally had it dried in with just black board on the outside and the plumbing and electric roughed in but there was no insulation or sheetrock.

The first weekend of November we were staring down days of cold rainy weather that herald the end of beautiful fall and the beginning of winter.  After 7 months in the tent we did not relish being cold and damp so we rigged up the woodstove in the new house and moved in, not optimal but at least we were warm and dry!  By Christmas we had it insulated and the sheetrock up but it would be another six months before we would have running water and more electricity than what an extension cord from the temporary power pole could deliver to four plugs.

It was those days and many more like them that made us tougher and resilient enough to succeed in this business but as we sit here with the 40 degree drizzle outside and a fire in the woodstove it all comes rushing back like it was yesterday.

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 Our blackboard house in the spring of 1983

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #35, 11/3/17

What’s been going on!

The last dark working morning, the sun does not hit the fields until nearly 10:00 a.m. which makes for cold conditions to get any work done much less harvesting wet vegetables. Fortunately the unusually warm fall has left us with only a few really cold mornings so far.  The killing freeze did not come last Sunday so the peppers live to see another week or two.

This is one of those happy/sad times of year as the main part of the season winds down we are looking forward to a bit slower time with shorter Saturday markets and less field work but we also lose our daily staff who we have worked alongside for months now.  Laura reduced her hours weeks ago as school started and last Friday was her last farm day.  Kyle has one more week and then he will be gone with maybe a few days here and there through the winter.  Even more sad is they both will not be coming back next season as they move on to build their own farm operations, we will miss them.

A little bit more planting to do for the winter and early spring but by now almost everything is in the ground.  Yesterday the anemones went in carefully prepared beds so they can give us bright flowers in January.  The action is almost entirely in the little sliding tunnels now with a few spring flowers left to go into the field.  Cover crops are coming up nicely and there is really only one big job left to finish the main season and that is taking out the peppers whenever that first freeze finally comes.

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Lots of lettuce and other greens in the little tunnels and the last of the Ginger and Turmeric staying warm

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #34, 10/26/17

What’s been going on!

First thing, I apologize to those of you who tried to reply to last week’s newsletter and it bounced back.  I had typed in the new return email address wrong, my fault but have it corrected now.  As part of integrating Jennie into all things Peregrine Farm we now have a joint email address so all three of can see messages and better respond to everyone.

News of the market renovations is becoming somewhat clearer.  We now know that we will be moving to just across the aisle from our regular spot and next to Chapel Hill Creamery.  It will feel like the end of the earth as we will be the very last vendor, farthest from what will be the main part of the market in the parking lot between Town Hall and the market shelters.  You will just have to come on down to see what beautiful food we will be offering.

The start date is also official.  We will be in our regular location for the next two Saturdays (28th and 4th) and then across the way starting Nov. 11th for the next 5 months.  Remember that market hours change to 9:00 on Nov. 4th.

Not only will vendors be taking up roughly 20 parking spaces in the lot between Town Hall and the market but during construction the small lot next or our spot and the lot next to Bim Street will also be closed.  There will still be parking along Bim, Laurel and Fidelity Streets, in the lots across Laurel, in front and behind Town Hall and the many other lots on the adjacent streets.  There is still plenty of parking within 100 feet of the market so just find your new regular space.  We are also more than happy to help carry items to your car or hold them while you get your car and can pull up right behind our space on Laurel Street.

As to real farm news, we are closely watching the forecast for the cold nights coming Sunday and Monday.  Probably won’t get down to the 28 degrees needed to kill the pepper plants but we will begin the final pepper pick over the next two days just in case and it is about time anyway.  We will cover a few rows to allow them to keep ripening over the next few weeks but the end of pepper season is in sight.

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Cold 40 degree morning harvesting radishes and waiting on the sun to arrive

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #33, 10/19/17

What’s been going on!

Now we are talking real NC fall weather but a close call yesterday morning with 34 degrees and some patchy frost in spots.  The peppers live to produce yet more fruit a while longer.

Great working weather and we have been taking full advantage.  One more part day on the tractor seeding cover crops and the big fall soil preparations will be done.  It has taken a bit longer than usual due to many interruptions in the process from extracurricular activities but finished just in time for some rain early next week.

A typical extracurricular activity today as we will be attending a meeting with the Town of Carrboro about the renovations that are about to start at the market.  If you have not read the many notices from the Farmers’ Market or in other places we want you to be aware of how the fall market will go.

Much needed improvements to the market site are scheduled to start in early November and last through March.  Re-grading of the grassed areas, better drainage, a new bathroom building and more!  During that time all of the vendors in the outfield and probably the vendors under the shelters on the outfield side (that includes us) will be relocated to empty spaces on the other side of the shelters or into spots in the Town Hall parking lot.  Yes we will lose some parking spaces for customers but there is ample parking within 100 feet of the market.

We know that all of you will take these temporary changes in stride and not let a little movement keep you from coming to market.  The Town is working very hard with us to complete this project during the slower winter months so we can be back up and running at full capacity when the busy spring season returns.  We will keep you apprised of where we might be moving to so you can still find our beautiful fall produce.

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Early warmth down in the pepper canyons

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #32, 10/12/17

What’s been going on!

Crazy July weather in October!  Gray, gray days with record low highs, super high humidity and tying records for daily high temperatures this late in the year, just ain’t right.

It took a day or so to recover from the Southern Foodways Alliance symposium, partly from the activities and then the 11 hour drive home through the rains from Hurricane Nate.  A great weekend with some really great presentations on Latino culture, food and civil rights in the South.  Outstanding meals from some of the Souths leading Latino chefs and excellent music!

Back to reality, spent much of the last two days on the tractor mowing crops and turning soil getting ready for the winter cover crop sowing.  The bit of rain we got the last few days has been just enough to make the soil work beautifully.  If all goes well, it will be done by Monday before the next rains come in.

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Another gray day

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #31, 9/28/17

What’s been going on!

One more day of summer temperatures and then maybe we are finally to real fall weather, let’s hope!  It has been good weather for mowing and crop cultivation to control the weeds.  While there is still more planting to do most of it is for over winter production and will be in the sliding tunnels.  If we can get good weed control in the field now then the fall crops can roll on without much more attention short of water and harvest.

Probably no newsletter next week as Betsy and Alex will be off to the 20th Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in Oxford Mississippi.  Every year the SFA has a theme for their programing that runs through all of the events.  This year it is the Latin South which we have been looking forward to both from a cultural perspective and of course the food.  This will be our first Symposium but we know that it is filled with scholarly discussions and talks with lots of great music, food and drink throughout.

The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.  We find it a great group for us to be aligned with as it gives us insights into the crops we grow and how they fit into our region.  We have also been honored to be included in the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans and Chefs some of the most talented and smart people we have ever been around.  While we had a long run with the Slow Food movement (and still keep abreast of what is going on) we have felt that the work that SFA does in the south resonates more with what we are doing and of course where we are.

Jennie and company will be at market next weekend with the full array, including the pepper roaster, so don’t hesitate to preorder as we will all be keeping an eye on emails.

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Early morning light across the farm

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