March 16, 2010

CSA Extras: Fruit

Last summer was a difficult season for fruit farmers in the northeast — all the rain in June not only washed out many early summer berries, but also altered the growing pattern of different varieties of pears and apples later on. Last year was also our first time partnering with a fruit farmer, and the first year that Breezy Hill Orchards was working with CSAs, which made for some miscommunication about what fruit we'd be getting each week.

Nevertheless, we ended up with some delicious stone fruits in the middle of the summer as well as a bounty of apples into autumn, and the reports from our end-of-season members' survey were mostly positive. We've also had some very productive conversations with Elizabeth Ryan of Breezy Hill, and feel confident that our second season (weather permitting) will be much better than our first.

One thing you should know is that Breezy Hill is not organic — in the northeast, pests are not controllable without some spraying. The apples are certified Eco Apples, which is a particular program of integrated pest management where prevention, traps, beneficial insect predators, and other methods are used to control pests, and chemical pesticides are used only as a last resort. Plums, pears, and peaches are easier to grow without pesticides, and some berries get no spray at all. But in the northeast, it's impossible to grow apples that way.

The other thing you should remember is that Breezy Hill is an orchard. We'll be getting rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, and pears — but make no mistake, we'll be getting lots of apples.

   Full share: $210
   Half share: $105

The fruit season starts one week later than our vegetables, and will take a week off within the first month when there's nothing to harvest, so we'll be getting only 21 weeks of fruit.