If you’ve spent any time driving around Chester County, then you’ve seen them on the side of the road: these spindly red machines that look exactly like what a five-year old would draw if you gave them some crayons and said, ‘draw me a tractor.’ That is, unless they’ve already been indoctrinated to think John Deere is where it’s at, the poor things.
I’m enjoying a beautiful day thinning fruit in the organic plot at North Star Orchard when a gentle breeze exposes a “coworker" hanging out on the underside of a leaf.
Growing apples organically in Eastern Pennsylvania poses many challenges. Luckily, we’ve got a little help from our friends! A sharp eye will catch three examples of organic orchard stewardship in this photograph. Do you see them all?
It’s only a slight overstatement to say that there are a million things to pay attention to when you’re growing vegetable, grasses, fruit, flowers, or whatever green growing thing that gets you excited enough to head outside and dig your hands into the soil when the weather is right. These variables include temperature, humidity, precipitation, bugs, pollinators, pests, wildlife, weeds, and on and on and on.
As farmers and consumers, why do we need to worry about pollination at all? Easy answer: because one third of the crops we eat rely on it! Any fruiting bodies that we eat, with a few exceptions, rely on pollination and proper fertilization to be recognized as edible. Apples, peaches, plums, zucchini, walnuts, melons, tomatoes, peppers, almonds, and pears all begin as blossoms, and if those flowers aren’t pollinated correctly, it might form a tiny, shriveled, or improperly developed fruit, which no one would want to eat.
Last year was a whirlwind year for us with the launch of our big, beautiful farm store and all the events we planned around it. Did you know we also offered an assortment of workshops as well? From the sound of it - and despite our best efforts - many folks who would have loved to participate simply didn’t hear about them in time to plan accordingly. We don’t want that to happen this year!
What does November mean to you? Thanksgiving celebrations...the clocks changing...digging out the sweaters and packing away the shorts...cozy evenings with warm drinks and fun movies?
November means all of that to us and more. Here on the farm, November means Gold Rush apple month - that golden time of year we all wait for to harvest and enjoy those awesome apples, make varietal cider, and start cleaning up the farm to ‘put it to bed’ for the winter.
For some of our local community, November also marks the memorable loss of two teens who suddenly and silently lost their lives a couple years ago to odorless carbon monoxide gas.