Category Archives: Produce

A Good Year for Apples

I must admit, I was a little sad last year. I didn’t cry or anything like that, but I was heartily disappointed. The reason for this, of course, was that it was a terrible year for apples in our little corner of the world.

The previous year the apples were raining down on us from the firmament, as well as the branches they were on because the weight of the apples was too much for the branches to hold them. I was happy that year. There was apple sauce, apple cider, apple pie, apple crisp, apples just to crunch on, and probably about nine other apple type things for all of us to enjoy.

The whole point of this blog post isn’t to live in the past, as much as I enjoy picturing myself repeatedly throwing hand fulls of apples into the air and doing the criss-cross applesauce dance or as vividly as I recall sitting forlorn at our dinner table last fall, resigned to eating a second helping of mashed potatoes instead of moving on to apple tarts. The point of this blog post is to look towards the future, which the present is using two-thumbs up to point at. What I mean by that is that it is looking like a fantastic year for apples.

The Golden Delicious tree in full bloom next to our chicken barn.

The reason that the future is so bright for the apple crop this year was the lack of frost in the last couple of weeks. If you recall, only a week or two ago, apple trees all over were in their full-blooming beauty. Because the trees did not get to put much energy into producing fruit last year, many of the trees had an overwhelming amount of flowers on them this year. Everywhere I looked, I saw the (mostly) white blossoms covering apple trees. It was during this critical time that we didn’t get a frost. The flowers survived and many of them were pollinated, and now there are little baby apples on the trees.

A little baby Zestar apple!

Now we must hope (and pray) from here that we don’t get too much rain, causing an increase in rot– or too little rain, causing the fruit, and our hope for a good apple season, to shrivel up and die. But as things are going, I am starting to drool over all of the apples I may eat.

We should not get too far ahead of ourselves, though. The lack of frost also positively impacts many other fruits. Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, apricots, pears, and what have you also dodged Jack’s bullet. It will still be a couple of months before I am biting into a fresh apple from the backyard, but it will only be a couple of weeks before I am biting into a fresh strawberry from our patch.

Getting to know our produce distributor

A few weeks ago, we announced the opening of our Weekly Produce Program (if you haven’t heard about it, you can read up here). Thank you SO much to everyone who has signed up so far!

Can you believe that it’s just days away from April and only 2 weeks away from the start of our Early Season phase of the Produce Program?!

The Weekly Produce Program offers fresh produce from our farm as well as from our produce distributor, Mento Produce. Mento is a family-owned company based in Syracuse, NY which distributes fresh, high quality produce from G.A.P. certified farms (abiding by high standards of safety and quality–but not Organic).

Since this is our first year with Mento Produce, we decided to do a “practice run” before the program started.  Last week, we asked 10 of our close family and friends to join us to place a minimum order, and we ordered a variety of fruits and vegetables including sweet corn, romaine, spinach, oranges, grapefruit, cucumbers, tomatoes and red peppers. All of this produce came from the Southern states but was guaranteed to be much fresher than the grocery store.

And… it was! The lettuce and spinach haven’t even started to wilt (a week later). Everything tasted great with the possible exception that the tomatoes and cucumbers were not quite as flavorful as they might be from our garden. Everyone who participated agreed that even the non-local Sweet Corn was surprisingly good. It was a new experience to eat fresh corn-on-the-cob in March…

The other encouraging part was the price. We were very happy with the amount of produce we received for the price we paid (and we expect the Regular Season prices to be even better because the produce will all be sourced locally!)

In short, we are thrilled with how our first order with Mento went and we are already dreaming about the fresh produce we will get to eat and share next time…

 

The 2017 Weekly Produce Program

We are very excited to announce that Hust Roost Farm is opening sign-ups for our new “Weekly Produce Program!”

We have been carefully designing this program for months, bringing together what we learned from our C.S.A. trial run in 2016 and looking at new ways in which we could make this program better for our customers–and also open the opportunity to more people in the community.

Let’s take a look…

In summary, if you and your family decide to sign up for the program, you will be committing to buy a “box” of fresh produce ($5-$10) once a week for the length of the program. The program will start up in early-to-mid June and run through the end of September. We also have an Early Start Option for those who are itching to get fresh produce sooner!

What will you get in exchange for your commitment? In your weekly produce box, you will receive top-quality locally-grown produce at reasonable prices. You will know and trust your produce sources: Hust Roost Farm as well as this list of NY state farms–all of which are G.A.P certified (Good Agricultural Practices). Most of the produce we receive from these local farms will go straight from the field to the distributer to our farm in about 24 hours, ensuring that your produce will be super fresh!

Why did we decide to partner with a local produce distributor? Simply, we wanted to expand the option of fresh, local produce to more people in the community than our gardens could support.

How does it work? After you sign up, and once the program begins, you will receive a weekly email describing the options available to you in the coming week. Every week you will need to choose from this list of options:

  • Salad Box (greens & toppings)
  • Vegetable Box (other than salad)
  • Fruit Box (when in season ONLY)
  • A list of additional add-on items

You can choose one of the boxes, multiples of one box, or more than one type of box. You will also have the option to add-on other items. Think of it as shopping from home on your computer!

We realize that you cannot hand-pick your items as you would at the market, but we will do our best to provide you with your favorite fruits and vegetables. Please take our product survey, which automatically comes up after the sign-up form. We cannot please everyone but will design the boxes based on the survey responses and seasonal availability.

What is the weekly timeline? You will receive your weekly email on Sunday evenings and you must reply to that email by Monday night to receive your box. Produce boxes will then be distributed on Wednesday afternoon. We will have a downtown pickup spot at Oakdale Mall (Johnson City) on Wednesdays from 5:30-6:30PM. Produce boxes may also be picked up at the farm Wednesday afternoon through Saturday. The earlier you pick up your produce, the fresher it is!

What else is nice about our program? Payments will be made as you go, rather than up front. If circumstances do not allow you to get a box in a given week (ie. emergency, vacation), you will be allowed to miss a week.  However, whenever you do place an order with us, you must pay for what you ordered to be eligible for the next box.

When can I start? The Early Season Option will start in mid-to-late April and the regular season will start in early-to-mid June. The early produce will be out-of-state but still abide by the same standards of freshness and quality. The regular season will start your selection of seasonal, local NY produce and will continue all summer long!

Ready to sign up? Talk to your family about this fresh and healthy opportunity, and feel free to ask us any questions you may have. We are excited to connect with you!

The Summer Produce Program

Photo courtesy of il raccolto di oggi.

Isn’t it nice to see the word “summer”  and a picture of fresh garden produce in the middle of January? One of the best ways to beat the winter blues is to start bringing together your summer plans now. Here is a sneak peak into one of our summer plans–and get this–you may be able to get involved and make this one of your summer plans, too!

Last year’s summer produce program:

Last year, we successfully ran our first organized program of selling fresh garden produce. We patterned it after the widely known C.S.A. program, meaning that we had our customers commit to buying a weekly box of produce (whatever we had available in our gardens) to help support the farm. This really helped give us a consistent outlet for our produce, and we rewarded our faithful and beloved customers by giving them the best of our produce at lower prices. And they loved knowing that it came right out of the garden, literally hours before they received it. 🙂 The only difference we had with most C.S.A. programs is that we did not require a payment up front, but rather had the customers pay by week as they received their produce bundles. This made it a much easier commitment!

This year’s summer produce program is going to be even more unique, with more modifications made to the traditional C.S.A. We are currently working on our own distribution model based on what we think really favors the customer, and will also allow us to offer the opportunity to a wider audience (think 50 spots instead of 12!)

Here is a basic summary:

-STILL a weekly box of fresh garden produce.

-STILL no up-front cost; rather paying weekly as you get your box.

-NOW with the more variety and input into what you get in your box.

-NOW with more FRUIT–not just vegetables!

-NOW offering produce from other NY/PA farms in addition to our own.

In fact, a great deal of the produce we are offering will be from other farms in New York and Pennsylvania. Instead of being just a grower, we will now also be a produce distributer. We are excited to partner with other farms so that we can expand our program to a wider audience and ultimately provide you with the produce you really like and enjoy, rather than whatever happens to be available from our garden (sorry last year’s folks for all of the beets!)

There will be many more details to come, but hopefully this has whet your fruit-and-vegetable-appetite. If you are interested in receiving more information about this program as it becomes available (more to come in late February!) you can sign up to receive emails about this program here.

We can’t wait for summer and all of the opportunities for health, family, and fun that it brings. The snow may be cooping us up for now, but we will be outside in shorts, munching on fresh vegetables, before we know it.