Hey folks! We tend to get a lot of "wow, you guys wake up early to get here" when we arrive at market. And yes, thank you, we do! We appreciate your noticing same as we appreciate your coming by to support local farms in your family's diet! However, we look at getting up and going to market to meet with you guys as the "icing on the cake"! For every hour we're set up at market are TONS of man-hours working to grow, harvest, sort, and stack produce - divide it up for our different markets. That's the real work, folks. And here are a few pics of what's going down on the farm on this "typical" market prep Friday!
What I Did On My Summer Vacation, by Ben Wenk - grade 3
My summer vacation was a good vacation. I spent it at Three Springs Fruit Farm. I learned a lot of things while I was there.
In May, it rained too much. The ground was very wet. Many crops could not be planted. I learned to be patient. I learned what the best conditions were to grow a fungus scientists call Venturia inaequalis. My dad calls it "apple scab". Many of the rains brought hail stones and rain drops. Strawberries were tough with all the rain... too. My friend Matt stopped by the President's house and asked him a question. We tried to have my friends visit, but it didn't work out. They wanted to plant... too. All our customers at our markets were cheery and friendly despite the rain and May was good.
Then in June the ground dried out. Many things were planted. I learned what apple scab looks like on apple leaves. I learned to evaluate hail damage in a very big... way... When we finally had everything planted, we started to pick more fresh things like squashes and cherries and many people ate them. That was good. We made new friends in Baltimore at the Fells Point Farmers Market. The new market made us very busy but we were ok. Toward the end of June, it was dry and I started to learn about irrigation. Our truck broke.
In July, I learned a lot about irrigation. I learned to run the irrigation at night. Then, when that wasn't enough, I learned to run some irrigation in the morning, and some at night. Then, I learned to fix broken irrigation lines and run the irrigation pump some more. Dad said this is a drowt. I didn't like the drowt. Then customers sent us pictures of their favorite things and it made me feel happy again. I learned what scab looks like on apples. Our truck got fixed.
When August came, things were doing ok. The drowt broke and we got rain. There were a few more hailstones but Dad said its ok. People really liked the peaches. People liked the apples also. Many people also liked tomatoes and other stuff. Many people too used the internets and ordered stuff and they liked that too. Then one day the earth shook and it was weird. Then, we met Irene and nobody liked her. She was a big meanie and we told her to go away, then she wouldn't go away and then she did. But when she was here she did mean things like push our trees and push our fruit and kept us away from our customers. What a butthead. Mom doesn't like that language.
I had fun on my summer vacation.
Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.
From Our Farm, to Your Home,
Mrs. Weidner's 3rd Grade Class
Bendersville Elementary School
We get asked all the time "can we come out to the farm"? "Can we pick your own at your farm"? First of all, we're very flattered and we appreciate your interest. We're still new at the farmers market game and we're not trying to bite off more than we can chew. However, it did occur to me that it might be nice to invite all of our awesome customers out for a yearly tour - that folks would appreciate seeing exactly where their food comes from. Already having that notion in my head, when we were honored with the opportunity to host a PASA Field Day on our farm I thought it would be a great chance to invite everyone out, see how things went and see if it's something folks would be into. In the the case of this tour, your $25 registration fee will support one of the landmark Local & Sustainable Food Advocacy groups on the whole East Coast, PASA. They are the voice of so many small, family-owned farms in the Mid-Atlantic and they host a terrific annual conference that I've attended regularly since starting our farmers market venture. I hope you'll consider joining us on this tour. It's catered by some great local food purveyors in our backyard, PLUS... by attending, you'll get an awesome, behind the scenes glimpse into the new and exciting crops you can expect to see at farmers markets in the future, such as the mysterious cruchberries and schnozberries of blogs past! Please comment or email with any questions about this fun day in rural Adams County!
While scouting our orchards for pests and diseases, I came upon this interesting apple anomoly in our Crimson Gala block on the Weaner Farm. Consider this pic something akin to Jon Stewart's "Moment of Zen". Enjoy!
So I found this about a week later! A little slower posting it, but interesting none the less:
10. Why can I never remember the last verse of Woody Guthrie's "Dust Bowl Blues"?
9. What time did you turn the pump on?
8. Which sections are we irrigating tonight?
7. When are you going to be done with that pump, I'm gonna need it back.
6. Did you backflush the lines this morning?
5. How long should we extend the suction hose?
4. "How in the heck can I wash my neck if it aint gonna rain no more"
3. What time did you turn the pump on? (we'd been over this one a lot)
2. There's a chance we're gonna get some (rain) tomorrow.
1. When the #&*@%! is it going to rain?
Glad to finally have a little rain! Can I order a little more for next week?
Picture, if you will, another hot day at Three Springs Fruit Farm. Temperatures are nearing 100 and you have workers to check on before it gets too hot to continue. My Uncle John found himself in such a situation earlier this week. You're driving up to the big Honeycrisp block in Gardners to check up on somebody when you're faced with this image (left). The tops of your trees are dying! Just the tops, just one row. Your heart sinks and you start thinking what you might have done wrong. Is it fireblight? Mildew? You see the end post of the trellis is split from top to bottom and you wonder - did someone back in to my trellis? Did someone turn too short and whack it with a tractor or mower? Did that uproot the trees? The more you investigate, the more you start to discover that, hard as it might be to believe...
These trees got fried by a lightning strike! AC/DC might liken it to being "Thunderstruck". Either way, it's the only solution for this anomoly. The row is at the top of the hill (shortest distance for lightning), it's isolated to only one row, and it shattered every support pole and bamboo conduit in the row. The singed leaves are isolated to the places closest to that high tensile wire. There are no signs of impact on any of the split support poles - instead, they look like they were split by the maul-weilding cousin of Thor himself; right down the middle, vertically! Here are more pictures documenting this oddity! These Honeycrisp trees are going to be stunted for life. It's only a bit of consolation to have an interesting story to go along with it.
Here's the latest shot... things didn't "turn out the way we wanted them to"... see before shot on the left and after shot on the right... dead trees.
Not to be a downer, I wanted to include this shot - (courtesy @OurPeachCrop) shows some large Honeycrisp apples coloring up nicely. More importantly, the apple on the left was DELICIOUS! It was still just a hair underripe... so patience, folks. Next week!
The internet can be a pretty weird place sometimes. If you ever lacked proof of this, two seperate websites had videos of me (of all people) gabbing about this and that in two weeks time!
Crop Life America wants to get the word out on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) - a passion shared by all of us here at Three Springs Fruit Farm. This seven minute video is shot during bloom season at the farm and gives you a close look at how IPM is performed in our pretty orchards. Sorry, I think my bias came through there a bit at the end.
At the time this video was shot, we were under the impression we'd be at Bethesda on Saturdays. Now we're at Silver Spring Farmers Market instead - the subject of the video posted below. Good background tunes - I need to bribe the Silver Spring buskers down to our end of the market! We've got yummy strawberries...
Local Washington DC News 8 coverage of the FRESHFarm Markets Health & Human Services Market Grand Opening!
Those of you who might have taken our customer survey are already well aware that we are on the ball trying to specialize in the things that all of you who are reading this blog would want us to grow! Having had some discussions with customers last year about a few new crops I was considering, I'd put the orders in to plant these this year.
The story behind acquiring these plants, while not epic, was still a memorable one... for all the wrong reasons. Brian and I had taken fired up our newly acquired box truck early in the morning of April 27th, setting a course for the secret location of these super secret plants. For entertainment purposes, we'll refer to these plants as "Schnozberry bushes".
So, there we were cruising down I-81 South for to gather our blessed Schnozberry bushes when "thunk, boom, ^%$*", our beloved box truck staggered to a crawl in a puff of blue smoke. Multiple attempts to revive our vehicle were unsuccessful, leading us limping defeated to the AAMCO Transmissions of Harrisonburg, VA. Without belaboring the point too much, these people were as prepared to diagnose a box truck problem as they were a Saturn V rocket.
The hours crept slowly by and we got no answers or progress on the problem. Finally, convinced that these folks had no concern for how long Brian and I might be stranded, Dave decided to make a dash to retrieve us and, should we get lucky, the Schnozberry bushes.
My father arrived in record time and picked up the two of us, leaving the incapable crew of AAMCO what little was left of the day to put their heads together and see if they could find the sparkplugs (I'm probably not exaggerating). Our Schnozberry bush purveyors were open until 7pm and if we hustled, we could still retrieve the goods and (possibly, depending on their size) bring them home in his pickup truck.
It was then that fortune finally smiled on our stalwart band. We winded our way through the Blue Ridge down to the secret location at which our Schnozberry bushes were kept - arriving with 10 minutes to spare. We loaded them quickly and were soon backtracking through the mountains Northward. Schnozberries in tow, we took cause for celebration when finally we reached civilization. Shamelessly, the three road-weary travelers split equally six 9 oz. Ribeye steaks and made it home before 11pm - all in the same day.
We got the Schnozberries in the ground the very next day, in addition to the crunchberries (we'll call 'em) that had arrived by mail from parts elsewhere. We have a few pics of the exciting proceedings. Twitter followers and Facebook fans had already been made aware of these exploits. Really, a few "tweeps" probably know what these guys are! Everyone else has until at least next year until the schnozberries and crunchberries are ripe!
When Three Springs expanded their farm acreage in 1985, a house was purchased for David Wenk's family. Included with the purchase was 42 bearing acres of 'Montmorency' sour cherries formerly belonging to the Musselman company. Two short years after, two harvesting machines were bought from a farmer in Michigan and we've been shaking things up ever since. Mechanically harvested cherries are processed at nearby Knouse Foods Cooperative and made into Lucky Leaf brand pie filling.
The same machines, seen here harvesting a new planting of sour cherries in 2009, travel on either side of the row of trees being harvested. David's machine, on the left as you view the tree, grips and shakes the tree. Banks of tarps catch the bouncing cherries and trickle them down toward the truck where John's machine (on the right) collects the cherries on conveyor belts. The cherries travel towards the operator onto a second conveyor which carries the fruit up and drops them into a steel tank of icy water.
video by Ryan E. Taylor