by Lisa Tucker
Spring is proving itself once again as being a challenge for our local growers. Two weeks of unseasonably warm temperatures followed by a cold snap, have put tree fruit and grape vines in serious jeopardy. Apricots, the first of the tree fruit to blossom and some say the most vulnerable, were immediately affected. Singer Farms has lost about 50% of their apricot crop. I’ve heard from some of the grape growers that the first buds and blossoms have endured damage, which will adversely affect future harvest. You will recall last year’s spring season was hampered by inordinate amounts of rain that prevented growers from getting seeds in the ground at the right time which ultimately shrunk yields and prevented certain crops altogether.
As we demand more and more to know where our food comes from and how it is grown, we gain a greater appreciation for the challenges our local farmers face with regard to weather and forces outside of their control. As we connect our eating habits with eating ‘in season’, we value getting that sweet, fresh strawberry that much more because we know what it takes to grow the delicious coveted fruit.
It is important, especially in these early days of spring, to pay attention to mother nature because she largely determines the course for farmers for the rest of the year. Cherries, another highly coveted locally grown fruit, are also at risk as the topsy-turvy weather plays its tricks. In speaking with Tom Szulist at Singer Farm Naturals, I learned that temperatures are able to drop as low as 27 degrees before the cherry buds will be damaged. They are anticipating cherries to blossom about a month early this year (some time in mid to late April), which will make them even more vulnerable to extreme changes in weather as fruit develops. So far so good.
Last year, Field & Fork Network (an organization I co-founded back in 2008), started putting on Seasonal Suppers, authentic farm-to-table dinners to marry the extraordinary foods being grown here with the exceptional culinary talents of some of our region’s best local chefs. The objective was to educate our guests on the diversity of our local agriculture and to gain a greater appreciation for what we have available here in our own backyard. By coming to the farms, meeting the growers, and tasting the food, guests were getting the complete food experience, from farm to plate.
With the success of last year’s Seasonal Suppers, Field & Fork Network just announced 3 dinners for the 2012 harvest season. The first will be a Hogs & Cherries cookout at Singer Farm Naturals during cherry u-pick season. This family-oriented event will be a pig roast featuring some of the specialty crops of Singer Farm Naturals including cherries and garlic! This is a non-ticketed event and guests will be served on a first-come-first-serve basis. We hope you will join us as we celebrate the cherry harvest. The tentative date for the cookout is July 7, 2012. This date is subject to change due to Mother Nature’s unknown path this spring. We encourage folks to check our website, www.fieldandforknetwork.com for the most up-to-date information. And we look forward to seeing you during the harvest season!
Lisa Tucker is the publisher of Edible Buffalo magazine and the co-founder of Field & Fork Network.