Vollmecke Orchards, you can taste the difference!

It may not look like much, but our new cooler helps keep our freshly harvested produce fresh!

It may not look like much, but our new cooler helps keep our freshly harvested produce fresh!

We all know the value of eating fresh local produce, but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that probably doesn’t occur to most people. What makes our produce different than what you can buy in the “local” section of your favorite grocery store? Freshness! Local produce tastes better than its ho hum grocery counterparts, because it isn’t tired from traveling across the country, from being stored in a warehouse, or stacked in heaps waiting to appear on grocery store shelves.

Variety is another factor. We choose what to grow based on flavor. That’s it. If something looks beautiful, but has no taste, we don’t grow it again! Grocery store produce is chosen for its ability to be picked green, travel well, be uniform in appearance, and hold up for a really long time. This is awesome if you have having a photo shoot. We prefer to eat and enjoy our vegetables! We grow many varieties that can’t be found in stores, because they just do not ship or store well–but they are delicious! Think heirloom tomatoes, delicate lettuces, sun-ripened peaches.

Then there is the ripeness factor. Really good produce is picked at the perfect stage to be full of flavor but not so ripe that it won’t hold up for us once we get it home. Our tomatoes are red when we pick them–not hard green globes! Allowing them to sun ripen brings about a flavor you just cannot duplicate any other way.

Proper storage and handling also makes a huge difference. We really do our best to make sure you get the best, freshest product possible. Over the years we’ve invested a lot of time and money in building walk-in coolers to help us assure that our fresh produce does indeed stay really fresh. For instance, by harvesting our lettuce first thing in the morning before the heat starts to wilt it, bringing it right in and tucking it into the cooler can greatly extend its shelf life, flavor and nutrition.

These are just some of the things we do, because we enjoy OUR food this way, and want to make sure that we are able to share the most delicious, flavorful food we can with all of you.

— Farmer Karen

Summer is here!

early am at farmWe are slowly transitioning into summer here at the farm, and your shares are starting to reflect this. Today, July 9, marks the last day of lettuce until the fall.  Our Pick-Your-Own (PYO) Peas are also just about done. No more garlic scapes or pea tendrils either. But, this just opens the door for lots of other delicious things!

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are still a few weeks off. But in the meantime, we have lots of zucchini and yellow squash, the ever prolific Swiss Chard, beans (green and yellow!), carrots and beets.  Potatoes and hopefully some corn will soon be joining your shares as well.

flash floodWe had just finished planting our PYO herbs and flowers right before that horrific downpour two weeks ago. We received almost 4″ of rain in about an hour here at the farm. Part of our field with the PYO stuff washed away (in addition to chunks of both driveways). What didn’t wash away is coming along, but that deluge set it back just a bit. (Notice the “stream” in the left hand side of the picture. That usually isn’t there.)

trransplant squash 2We are largely finished with our planting for the spring season–the last to go in was our winter squash—pumpkins, acorn squash etc. We got to use our handy dandy transplanting tool on the tractor, which made our job of planting hundreds of squash much easier…plus it was kind of fun to ride it…

Your shares this week will definitely include beets, Swiss Chard, zucchini and green beans, so here are some recipes to help you use all of those:

Special tools of the trade

Over the years we have begun groOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwing more and more seedlings in the greenhouse.It gives us a nice jump on the season and allows us to provide a greater diversity of produce from the get go in Spring. If we did all this by hand it would be a rather daunting task to crank out the quantities of seedlings we need.

Here’s a picture of some of the tools we use in the greenhouse to help speed up the seeding process. Notice the board with the dowel pegs sticking out of it. This is called a dibble board [leave it to the Brits to name such a thing] it is used to establish the holes in the soil mix in which the seeds will be placed. Every time we switch to a different size of seed flat we need to use a different dibble board. So we have standardized the process as much as possible. This special tool keeps us from having to poke individual holes in the soil mix with your finger-big time savings! The other box -like tool is our wonderful vacuum seeder. A hose connects the suction box to a shop vac. The seeder has exchangeable plates that have specific hole sizes punched in each one. The idea is to use just the right plate size so  that the seeds will not get stuck in the holes when the suction is turned on. A seed will be held to the outside of each hole when the vacuum is turned on and will release when the device is turned upside down over top the seed flat and the vacuum is then turned off. Each seed falls into a hole that was created with the dibble board. A number of different plates are needed for the device since seeds vary so much in size and shape. Each plate costs more then $100.00.  Yikes- and we have to have how many plates?  Not exactly cheep but what a brilliant time saver and definitely money well spent!