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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And of  course any of the words highlighted in orange are links to other information that will open in another page.

Have fun!

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 17 #19, 5/27/20

What’s been going on! 

Another damn rainy week!  There is a great stress reducing factor when you can look back over four decades of farming and know that it can always be worse.  In our first season farming we had just planted four acres of blackberries and raspberries, 20,000 feet of row.  We were living in the tent next to the 20’X20’ tractor shed when after a March and April dry period it started to rain in May and didn’t stop the whole month, 15 inches of rain fell in those thirty one days.  Nearly every afternoon there would be a thunderstorm with great downpours.

The result was a biblical scourge of weeds that germinated in the berry rows.  We had turned over soil that hadn’t been farmed in years and unleashed millions of weed seeds that had lain dormant.  We had no equipment to deal with it and had not yet been able to mulch the rows.  After mowing the six foot tall growth in the aisles between the plants, standing on the tractor so I could see down into the mass so as to not mow the young berry bushes, I spent the month of June hand weeding circles around each of the 10,000 plants so as not to lose them followed by weed eating the remaining growth.

We were humbled by the power of nature and only by the shear dent of our stubbornness did we save those plantings and continue on to be successful.  We vowed never again to be caught that way.  So this seven or eight days of rain this month is just another blip in the long history of weather events here at the farm.  Needless to say it has slowed crop growth and nearly decimated the blueberry season but it is what it is.

Picture of the week

img055 - CopyIn this old grainy picture you can see the river that formed every afternoon that May, you can also see the weeds growing in the background

What’s going to be at Market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 17 #18, 5/20/20

What’s been going on! 

This is certainly a capper for a couple of weeks of dramatic weather turns.  We are looking at 4-5 inches of rain over this four day stretch and it is really throwing a wrench into the farm works.  It is one thing to cut lettuce in the rain (a task I have done, unfortunately more times than I wish to count) but to pick fussy crops like blueberries and sugar snap peas is untenable.

We picked blueberries as hard as we could on Monday, it also appears to be the peak week for this year which makes it doubly frustrating.  No picking yesterday, today or probably tomorrow which loads the work onto Friday, already busy with the normal market harvest.  We do have a few people lined up to help but we will never get to all of the berries.  We did sneak out yesterday, in between showers, to pick damp peas which is never a good practice as it will spread the pea enation virus up and down the rows but the pea crop never lasts more than two weeks anyway.  80 pounds of beautiful peas and we will try do the same tomorrow if the rain will let us, you have to pick them at just the right size so they cannot wait.

Everything else looks good in the fields and tunnels, we appear to be past the production gap we have had the last few weeks.  We actually needed some rain but not this much for this many days.  Our last planting for the year went into the ground Monday and we are now in the count down to the end of our season with just six more markets.  Hard to believe it is Memorial Day weekend!

Picture of the week

IMG_20200519_143107865_HDRNot sure what is scarier, the rain or the Scare Eye balloon?

What’s going to be at Market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 17 #17, 5/13/20

What’s been going on!

Well the cool week has lived up to the hype.  We did bring out the row covers on Saturday night to add an additional layer of protection over the tomatoes, cucumbers and basil as additional insurance.  While 28 degrees is the point at which real damage occurs we want these warm season crops to not miss a beat at this time of year.  Sunday morning it was 30 degrees near ground level outside the tunnels but 37 degrees inside.  Yesterday morning it was 31 or 32 degrees outside and 38 inside and everything looks great and we have now rolled up the row covers hopefully for the final time this year as we are now headed into the furnace.

The cool weather has definitely slowed down the growth of some crops, like lettuce, so it looks like we will again have a production gap for this weekend but with the warm temperatures coming things will catch up quickly.  One crop that is way ahead of schedule are the blueberries which are a good ten days to two weeks earlier than normal.  We will pick the first ones this week!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, no farmers anticipated what would happen this spring when planning the cropping schedule last winter.  We, and most farmers, plan with the knowledge and information from years past.  Our production has been carefully balanced with past sales at Farmers’ Market and orders from local restaurants, we have decades of data that tell us pretty accurately what you all will reliably buy.  Some local farmers have by now increased plantings of some crops but most of it is baked in.  I thought that this piece from the NYTimes did a good job of describing how flawed the current food system is and how growers like us have worked outside of it.

Picture of the week

P1050511This is diversity, saponaria flanked by a new lettuce planting and sugar snap peas

What’s going to be at Market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 17 #16, 5/6/20

What’s been going on! 

I try not to make this the weather report page but you know that is what dictates farmer’s lives and sometimes, especially in the spring, it is the news.  A very unusual May cold snap coming Saturday night, an extreme version of the classic blackberry winter which we have every May but usually with lows only down into the low 40’s or high 30’s, we have forecast lows on Sunday morning as low as 31 degrees!  We will be watching this one closely but will undoubtedly have to pull out the row covers to add an additional layer of protection over the tomatoes and cucumbers even inside of the tunnels.  And the wild blackberries are not even blooming yet!

This blast of cold is one of those crazy swings due to the polar vortex breaking down as it moves towards summer.  There was a really good article in the Washington Post in March that talked about how intense the polar vortex was in the arctic this winter (which contributed to our warm winter) and when a vortex with such strong winds breaks down all kinds of unusual weather can be the result.

The generally cool weather for the start of this week has slowed down some crops in the field especially the flowers which are not blooming as quickly as we would like for the Mothers Day weekend.  Betsy refers to it as like milking a chicken, you go out every day and cut the few stems that have opened but you don’t get much.  If you need to reserve some bouquets email us and we will put you on the list or let you know if we will have them by Friday afternoon.

Picture of the week

P1050509Sugar Snap Peas blooming like crazy, peas in two weeks!

What’s going to be at Market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 17 #15, 4/29/20

What’s been going on! 

Really glorious weather this week and we are in the heart of spring for sure.  A few weeks ago I was talking about how early this spring seemed compared to past years, warmer earlier, trees leafing out faster, crops maturing weeks ahead of normal.  Interestingly I ran across the National Phenology Network’s page on the status of spring and according to their maps we have had the earliest leaf out in the 39 years they have been keeping records!

bloomri

We have been taking advantage of the last cool mornings to finish up some chainsaw work, cleaning up some areas around the farm and cutting a little more firewood.  I hate running the chainsaw when the leaves are out but there are times you have to do it and the weather was conducive as long as we are finished by noon.  Weekly plantings continue but we are nearing the end of the cool season crops that need to go in the ground, only a few more rounds of lettuce to go in the ground.

The earliest warm season crops are beginning to really move.  The cucumbers are beginning to climb the trellis and two weeks ago I suckered the tomatoes and this week I will have to tie them up a second time as they have kicked into a higher gear after the pruning.  With temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s things will really start to move fast, including the weeds!

Picture of the week

P1050502Sign of good things to come

What’s going to be at Market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol.17 #14, 4/22/20 Earth Day!

What’s been going on! 

Earth Day!  Hard to imagine is has been 50 years since the first one.  Betsy and I were eager young foot soldiers in the environmental movement back then which eventually lead us to our choices in college degrees and to become sustainable/organic/regenerative farmers.  We wanted to save and improve the environment around us and the planet as a whole.

Back in the 70’s the work and the problems were more obvious, you could see the pollution in the air, the water and on the ground.  We all knew that what we were doing to the planet was not sustainable and great changes were made.  Today there are still vast problems but they are more invisible and insidious and harder to correct, the largest and the culmination of most of the problems combined is of course Climate Change.  I thought this article in the NY Times summed up well where we are today.

While it would be great to be able to have an effect on the planet, we can only control what is immediate to us, you know “Think globally, act locally”.  We have focused all these years on how to make Peregrine Farm the most sustainable and environmentally sound place and business that it can be.  We are constantly thinking about the ways we do things, the materials we use, the way that we interact with the greater world around us.  In this unusual time of Covid-19 it becomes even more important that we don’t lose sight of that goal.

We want to again welcome the many new subscribers to the newsletter and eaters of our food that have joined us in the last weeks, we hope that it is one of your “act local” efforts.

Picture of the week

P1050491The last of the clover and wheat cover crops that improve our soil.

What’s going to be at Market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 17 #13, 4/15/20

What’s been going on! 

Thank you to everyone who called, emailed and texted us on Monday to make sure we were okay after the tornado passed near us.  Everything is fine here on the farm, all we got was some heavy rain.  We were up very early preparing and watching in case we did have to get into our safe place but both storms, one a confirmed tornado, went by to the northwest of us about five or six miles away.  Knowing the storms paths we, like you, began checking in with all of the farmers and others that we know in those areas and so far everyone we have talked with had no damage.

The only other tornado we have had near us was 26 years ago when one passed right over the mill in Saxapahaw and took the roof off.  Back then it was still a working yarn mill and that was the end of its commercial life.  It sat idle for some years before the renaissance that has become the miracle of Saxapahaw began.  Now the old mill is full of apartments, restaurants and the renowned Saxapahaw Ballroom music and event center.

Thank you again for everyone’s patience and understanding of what seem to be constant changes in the market routine as they are mostly out of the Market’s control.  Last week’s change to one entrance and exit and a limit on how many people could be in the market area at any one time was sprung on us late on Thursday by the Orange County Health Dept. while it is not ideal and might be tweaked some more this week you all were great at working with the change.  If you see our new market Manager Maggie give her a big thank you for handling so many changes and challenges in her first month with such grace and skill!  I can say that the Carrboro Farmers’ Market is doing an exemplary job of social distancing and managing the flow of people, far, far better than any other place I have been in the past month.

Picture of the week

P1050487Even on a gray day the green of spring is vibrant and the creek has returned to normal after the storm.

What’s going to be at Market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 17 #12, 4/8/20

What’s been going on! 

We hope that you all are getting out and enjoying this incredible spring weather that is much too warm for this early, this is at least the end of April weather if not early May!  Not surprising with the very warm winter we had.  I have always said, warm winter, hot summer and the Climate Prediction Center agrees with me.  All of the three month forecasts are for above normal temperatures through at least September.  An indication that we are far advanced over a normal spring are the crops that are maturing at least two weeks ahead of last year.

With warm weather comes the need to water all the crops.  The change comes fast from nearly too wet in February and March to one day it is imperative to get some water out there and fast.  Last Friday afternoon after harvesting and before putting all the pre-orders together I set up the outdoor headlines with micro sprinklers and some drip lines and not a minute too soon.

We again want to commend everyone for the tremendous job they are doing at market- the customers, the Town of Carrboro and the vendors.  The Town has really been going above the call with volunteers, signage and more.  The vendors are changing just about everything they have ever done by moving to new locations, whole new display set ups, taking pre-orders and sanitation procedures.  It has all worked because the customers have been so supportive and patient with keeping their distance, following the traffic pattern, pre-ordering and wearing face masks.  Together we will all get through the next several months and be able to eat and enjoy the spring bounty.

Picture of the week

P1050483Micro-sprinklers throwing water to the Little Gems and Fennel.

What’s going to be at Market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 17 #11, 4/1/20

What’s been going on! 

We have never seen anything quite like the surge of new interest in the market and our produce and flowers.  After 9/11 with all of the uncertainty that event provided around the safety of the food supply we did see a ground swell of people who found the market to be a place of community support as well as good, clean food.  When other businesses were taking some hits, the market stayed strong.

Now nearly two decades later we have another destabilizing event that is even more crazy and widespread.  With the internet now in full bloom, people are even more able to find better and alternative food sources as the grocery stores can’t get or stock enough food especially produce and meat.  With our new online ordering we have had a large number of folks both ordering and signing up for the newsletter, some of whom we have never met before, welcome to all of you!

While the Carrboro Farmers’ Market is the town square and community building place the difference during this shakeup is we cannot take the time or the proximity to form the relationships and soak in the good will and security the market provides.  It will be through online sources like this newsletter and our website that we will have to use to get to know each other.  Dive in look/read around.

This is what local food is all about, good food, produced nearby by people you know and trust.  Minimal transport and handling before it gets to you.  I have been in the grocery stores and their produce departments are bare and I have had customers tell me they have tried to order lettuce from a store and twice they were either sold out or it just didn’t show up in their order.

That is not to say that we and the other local farmers, will not have supply problems as none of us planned or planted to be able to replace what the grocery stores usually have but you can be assured we will bring everything we have to market and do our best to keep you informed of what is available.

Good week on the farm, we got the peas trellised, slid the last of the tunnels over the beds that will soon be planted to cucumbers and basil, planted yet more lettuce and cultivated most of the spring vegetables.  The trees are greening up, the dogwoods and redbuds are putting on a great show, we hope that you can get out and enjoy the spring beauty, just stay 6 feet away from your fellow man!

Picture of the week

P1050475Trellised peas and lots of other good things to come

What’s going to be at Market?

We will not be at the Wednesday market for the foreseeable future until the outbreak subsides but we do plan to be at Saturdays as long as we can be.

To facilitate less contact and faster exchanges we are encouraging people to pre-order so that it is ready to go when you get to market this page has all of the details on how to do thatWe need your orders by noon on Friday for us to be able to put them together on Friday afternoon.

Red and Green Little Gem lettuce.  A few more tender Green Boston Lettuces.  A good supply of Romaine and Red Summer Crisp Lettuce (a combination of Romaine and Red leaf).  Plenty of Escarole for soups, salads or sautéing.  Tons of crunchy Red Radishes and tender and sweet Japanese Salad Turnips.

The flood of Ranunculus continues, like miniature peonies, orange, red and maroon. We all need some brilliance in our lives right now!

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. 17 #10, 3/26/20

What’s been going on! 

You all are awesome!  Last week’s market went so well we were all blown away.  If we can all keep up the good practices of the 6 foot physical distancing, getting in and getting out of the market quickly and washing or using sanitizer on our hands we should be able to keep the market open.  Agriculture and farmers markets are considered essential jobs and businesses so we are trying to do our best to bring food to those that need it.

Betsy and I talk everyday about the dilemma of staying at home versus going to market. We don’t want to encourage, in any way, people going out in public or in groups but at the same time you all have been overwhelming in your requests for good fresh produce.  We also know the importance of the kind of normalcy that the market routine represents for so many of us which is necessary in these non-normal times.

We have decided to not attend the Wednesday market for at least a few weeks to reduce our time out and about.  We are also going to town only if we absolutely have to.  We will make the decision about the Saturday market on a week to week basis, so far it is still on for this week.  We still encourage people to pre-order if they can, see the link below for the instructions.

On a more regular life note, we worked hard the beginning of the week building trellis and preparing the tunnels to plant tomatoes and slipped the very healthy looking plants into the ground Tuesday afternoon.  Perfect overcast conditions to transplant with no shock to their system.  Hopefully by the time they are ready in June, the worst of this will have passed, hmmm tomato sandwiches!

Picture of the week

P1050470These tomatoes don’t know about coronavirus

What’s going to be at Market? Continue reading