Fruit! In case you haven’t realized it, we are in the height of fruit season with our growers. Blueberries and Cherries to be specific. And these are two of our oldest and most established partnerships that we have with growers.
Berry Best Farms in LaRue TX grows some of the most amazing high bush blueberries around. The acidic soil and high temperatures really make for a concentrated blast of blueberry flavor. These are not the over-irrigated big as a marble blueberries. And honestly, they shouldn’t be. The bigger the berry the more water the berry carries. So when I look for blues, I want to see a medium sized fruit packed with flavors. And we find that with Cary’s berries.
Also, you will love the freshness that we get from Berry Best. The harvesters (all by hand which is hard to find these days) head out into the field and harvest for us. The driver then leaves the farm and drives throughout the night and delivers to us first thing in the morning. No warehouses, forklifts, or additional middle(wo)men standing in the way between the field and our members. Unless you go to a U-Pick patch, you will not see berries any fresher than we bring you.
Fortunately for all of us, our good buddy Paul, from Excelsior Orchards in Paonia, CO harvests the same way. And the 4th of July week marks the beginning of his harvest season with the long awaited….drum roll please, sweet cherries.
Paul farms 85 acres of some of the most high quality trees in the entire United States. I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but you will be hard-pressed to find better growing conditions for fruit tree production than on the western slopes of Colorado. The warm days and cool nights, along with high mineral content from the mountainous soils, make from an ideal location. Well, as long as you avoid the late spring freezes.
I met Paul and his wife Elane about 12 years ago as they were trying to find homes for their incredible fruit. Our CSA was small at the time and we tried to support their orchard as much as we could.
Over the years, they have increased their harvests and we have increased the mouths that we feed. Then about 3 years ago over a cup of strong coffee and with no lawyers present, we shook hands and agreed to buy all of the fruit that Excelsior Orchards and Paul could grow.
This agreement made it easy for me/you to ensure that we would have access to the most incredible fruits in the region (and probably country). And for Paul, he could focus on what he does very well, grow fruit. Part of this agreement meant looking at fruits and varieties that could extend the season.
You see, if you are growing for fruit brokers you want to grow it, harvest it in one swoop, and then be done for the season. But with this new relationship, the goal is harvest a moderate amount every week throughout a longer window. Many years we will see Paul (and his fruit) for 6 months of the year.
Cherries, apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches, pears, and apples all call his orchard and your kitchen home throughout the season. We are very fortunate to have such a special arrangement with Paul. And I would have to say that partnerships like these are really how a diverse regional foodshed should look. The grower gains marketing consistency and fair prices. The consumer gets fair prices (no middleman) and insanely fresh fruits because they are harvested ripe and ready to eat since there is no delay in getting them to consumers. A true win-win situation. Enjoy!
Lastly, our second Summer Camp is coming up around the corner. July 10th we will kick off the second in our 3 part camp series for this summer. Monday through Friday. 9am-3pm. And yes a tasty Organic lunch is created, made and eaten by the campers every day. Please send an email if you are interested in joining in the reindeer games. Ages range from 3rd to 8th grade.
Happy 4th of July, Farmer Monte