So! Here's all the more I can say about stuff like this when it happens. I graduated Penn State's College of Ag, eager to farm and work outdoors with my family on lands that meant a great deal to me and a community that still supported agriculture. I didn't have the first idea where that path would lead at the time. It lead me to Philadelphia! Our first farmers markets were in Philly. My friends, family, in-laws were there too. And so were a lot of people who really loved food. Wanted to know where it came from - everything about how I grew it. These people became my friends. They trusted me, and I trusted them. I listened when they spoke about all the great things going on in Philadelphia. I was green coming out of college. I didn't have any idea what a "food scene" was. But Philly embraced me, and "learned me up right quick". So, when the occasion does arise that I'm honored with this kind of great recognition, it's cause for me to stop and appreciate the opportunity I was given. To thank my father and uncle for giving me the chance to prove myself, for my mom, who every Headhouse customer knows, puts in long hours every Sunday, what would really be her only day off, to help me out. To everyone here at the farm for all of their hard work - this farm is nothing without the good people we're fortune enough to have on our team. And thank you to all of the outstanding people I've met in the food business. Certainly you Philly folks - you know who you are, from the kind words of customers at market, to the folks who have never failed to steer me right, thank you. And certainly the folks in Baltimore, DC, and our neighbors in the industry as well. In short (hah! right)... I'm humbled by the recognition and there are too many people to thank.
Our first ever farmers markets in Philadelphia occurred way back in July of 2007. At the time, one of the few things we had for sale were tart cherries, a crop we've grown in high volume since I was about three years old. We were blown away with how excited people were to have these fruits, 28 acres or so of which comprised my "back yard" growing up.
But never in my wildest dreams did I expect these humble, yummy nuggets to receive such fanfare! Perhaps the word is out on their nutritional benefits, perhaps folks just learned to eat them fresh as snacks as I did as a child. Regardless, check out just a few of the noteworthy uses and destination for this, the 2013 crop of tart cherries.
- How about Baltimore's pioneering, phenominal, every-bit-as-good-as-advertised Woodberry Kitchen? <one of my all-time favorite, must-eat-here restaurants>
- Zagat Survey in Philadelphia touted our crop of tart cherries to be the best thing they that weekend!
- Philadelphia's Ritz Carlton "10 Arts" chose our cherries for their menu this year
- Through our partnership with Zone 7, Three Springs produce made their NYC debut at such establishments as Print in Hell's Kitchen, Angelica Kitchen in the East Village, Light Horse Tavern in Jersey City plus a slew of cool-looking joints in Brooklyn too numerous to mention (which, truthfully, might be where I'd like to taste these cherries).
- Chef Brian Ricci at Kennett (more destination dining/big friend of this farm) made a big batch of cherry mustard which must be tried the next time I brunch there after Headhouse!
- Chef Valerie Irwin at Geechee Girl Rice Cafe in Mt. Airy (Philly) will be out of her cherries quickly seeing as how they won't open until Wednesday dinner service and there were already mobbed by swarms of hungry would-be diners when I made my delivery today (Monday), thanks to the feature on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
- Talented South Philly Brewmaster Sean at Mellody Brewing Company has his cherries pitted and ready to brew in this year's vintage of the highly appetizing Sour Cherry Patersbier!
- The @3springsfruit #cherrytour in #Philly proudly made stops at the storefronts of some old friends (Weaver's Way Coop, Greensgrow Farms, Fairfood Farmstand at Reading Terminal market) and some new ones too (Swarthmore Coop, Teens 4 Good, Oyster House, Christina Maser Co., and Sweet Elizabeth Cakes).
- As always the bulk of our tart cherries were sold to Knouse Foods Cooperative here in our backyard to make Lucky Leaf and Musselman's brand cherry pie filling, using this handy method:
- The Cooperative provides us the means by which we can provide you with another year's supply of this customer favorite:
So, now that we've plumped the ego of one of our favorite fruits, we'll have a hard time living with them until next June/July when they'll bask in the glow of the superfruit spotlight once more. I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Demille!
"I've read about your Buyer's Club and I don't think it's for me. What I like are farmers markets!" No worries*, we've got ya covered (ok, so Baltimore and Philly... we've got nothing for ya, see Buyer's Club blog). You still with me? Cool - here is where Three Springs can be found in the Winter Time - in our normal, fresh-faced, standard display, standardized hours farmers market format that we've all come to enjoy so much!
Silver Spring Farmers Market - Saturdays 10-1pm
We'll be at our standard spot (as far as I know right now), between Copper Canyon Grill and FroZenYo on Ellsworth from January thru March before the "Year Round" Market begins again in April, at which time we'll show up an hour earlier again, 9-1pm. That's right, every Saturday morning in DC, we've got your apple/potato/value added goodness supplies covered
January 5th - March 30th, 10-1pm
Central Pennsylvania - Twice Each Month!
Both of our awesome Central PA markets have added monthly Winter Markets to their schedules and we're happy to be attending both! Sure, we wish they were spread out bi-weekly, but this is how the chips fell, folks! Farmers on the Square will tend market every third Saturday in the afternoon while Farmers on Walnut will tend every third Friday in the late afternoon/eveningtime. So! To clarify, Three Springs will tend market on the following dates in the following locations:
FOW/Camp Hill in the First Presbyterian Church:
Happy New Year, everybody!
During the last few weeks of your favorite farmers market, you may have heard about our Winter Buyers Club - a new venture aimed at keeping our awesome and worthy customers satisfied with delicious apples (and other stuff) during the cold winter months when we're not at market. Many of you signed up to get email notification of when these orders will be delivered in your home town (click here, choose option "BC - "Your City/area"). We wanted this info out sooner, but we needed to update our online store with more selections and safe, secure authorize.net credit card authentication! We've also partnered with other farmers so you can pick up multiple things in one stop! Those emails are going out at present, but here's what to expect:
PHILADELPHIA - Jan. 28th, 12:00 - 12:30, at Headhouse Shambles, 2nd & Lombard
Every fourth Saturday between the hours of 12:00 noon and 12:30, we'll be delivering your online orders. Plus, we'll be right beside our regular neighbors at Hillacres Pride, who will be taking your orders for all your favorite meats, cheeses, dairy products, and milk on their website! One stop shopping for a month's worth of farm-fresh, sustainably raised, high quality fruits, veggies, proteins, cheeses, raw milk, and eggs! For a discount on your first buyers club purchase, just complete our short survey and click "submit" at the end.
GREENBELT AND SILVERSPRING - Jan. 15th, 10:00am (Greenbelt - GFM parking lot nearest New Deal Cafe), 11:00am (Silver Spring - location TBD)
Every third Sunday through the offseason, we'll be delivering orders for Greenbelters to the GFM parking lot nearest to New Deal Cafe between 10:00am and 10:30am. We're partnering with Two Oceans True Food, Greenbelt Farmers Markets' sustainable seafood vendor who will bring your seafood orders during the same time. We'll make the quick trip over to Silver Spring afterwards and deliver to the fine folks of that community in the same trip at a location to be determined. For a discount on your first buyers club purchase, just complete our short survey and click "submit" at the end.
Towson And Baltimore
I'm still trying to piece this drop off together. Please complete this quick survey on your Buyer's Club preferences and you'll be hearing from us soon. Thanks!
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, don't forget to click to the end and click "submit" to finish the survey and submit your answers!
A few things coming up on us quickly that warrant a little attention:
First, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to speak about one of my favorite subjects: apple cider. The Chemical Heritage Foundation, located at 315 Chestnut Street in Center City Philadelphia was kind enough to ask me to provide an informative presentation on the making of apple cider, it's history, origins, and everything else related to this celebrated beverage. The event runs between the hours of 5-8pm and is open and free to the public. Samples will be handed out featuring cider pressed that very morning so come by and learn how this stuff is made!
Secondly, we're very proud to contribute to this year's Farmland Feast Online Auction, benefitting FRESHFarm Markets. As many of you know, FRESHFarm maintains and operates farmers markets in the DC/MD area including two of the markets we attend. They also operate several other charitable programs benefitting both local agriculture and the communities we, as local producers, serve. In order to operate and maintain these programs, they depend on the charitable gifts of folks who are behind the local food movement and envision a better community in urban areas through local agriculture. If this sounds like you, we've provided a great way to contribute - a weekend travel package to nearby historic Gettysburg that includes a personalized, private tour of our farm, two nights accomodations at the Historic Gettysburg Hotel, and an evening of dinner and music provided by me, Farmer Ben, and his Garryowen Irish Pub jam night brethren. Bids for this experience can be made at this website and I'm putting my reputation as a farmer and performer on the line to assure you, you'll get your money's worth out of this weekend! Thanks for your support!
Well Charlie, you've really outdone yourself this year! With Phillie of my youth Ruben Amaro pulling the strings in the front office deserving a heaping helping of praise as well, the 2011 version of the Philadelphia Phillies set a franchise record with 102 wins en route to their fifth straight division title (one for every year of Three Springs farmers markets and Headhouse Farmers market). While the "Four Aces" garnered a lot of the hype, injuries caused the Fightin's to rely heavily on role players and young players brought up through the farm system to achieve a regular season worthy of recognition as the "greatest Phillies team of all time" according to this Metro scribe. We celebrate these achievements and wish the Phillies nothing but the best in their annual playoff run by acknowledging each members similarities to our favorite apples in advance of the National League Divisional Series, beginning this week! Without further ado, the 2011 Phillies Apple Lineup!
The Four Aces:
- 'Honeycrisp' Apples- Cliff Lee, SP - I know what you're thinking - where's Doc? Follow me with this one. We're into Cliff Lee season, now. This is no knock on Doc Halladay, but we know when the lights shine brightest, Cliff Lee turns the lights out on the opposition. Now that the playoffs have started, it's Cliff Lee city, folks. Plus, his signing is what set this whole season in motion - his desire to return to Philadelphia and his willingness to spurn the hateful New York Yankees (plus, Doc was HC last year - spread the love). In the height of apple season, there's no fruit I trust to wow a new farmers market customer quite so much as a perfect Honeycrisp. In the playoffs, there's nobody more clutch on the mound than Cliff Lee.
- Three Springs "Must Eat" Apple Cider - Charlie Manual, skipper - It takes a wise and deft manager to produce a consistent winner. You need the know how and you need to have the right parts in place with the right blend of starting pitching, relievers, power, average hitters, defense, and speed. Thankfully, I acquired the know how required to blend apples for cider at Penn State. My goal is to consistently produce winning cider batches. After five consecutive trips to the postseason, Charlie has blended his talented apples into a winning product on the field and is now recognized as the winningest skipper in the history of Philadelphia (much like our cider was recognized as something everyone should eat in Philadelphia).
- 'Jonagold' - Cole Hamels, SP - How soon we forget that Cole was Cliff Lee before Cliff Lee was Cliff Lee back in the World Series run of 2008 - a hard-throwing lefty who proved to be completely unsolvable when it mattered the most. Cole Hamels has proved himself to be that same pitcher again through long stretches of the 2011 season, finishing the season with a WHIP under 1.00 (didn't think that was possible) to lead the team! Similarly, I'd throw Jonagold up there with Honeycrisp in terms of overall flavor - excellent eating quality, more sweet than tart, just not as thunderously crunchy as the Honeycrisp. They're two left-handed power pitchers with a history of postseason dominance, Honeycrisp and Jonagold are!
- 'Gala' Apples - Roy Halladay, SP - Your game one starter, your leading Cy Young candidate (Clayton Kershaw beat up on inferior competition in meaningless games), your steady, everyday world class starter - this is Roy Halladay, folks. Other than leading the best Phillies team ever assembled in Wins, ERA, and Innings Pitched - what's there left for Doc to prove? Easy, Doc hasn't won it all yet and there's nothing more important to him than that ring! He took a pay cut to prove it! In a country where consumption of apples per capita is down, each year there are more Gala apples sold in this country than the year before! The success of this New Zealand apple is hard to fathom at times... just like the success of Doc once he was freed from chilly Canada!
- 'Fuji'Apples - Roy Oswalt, SP - This Mississippi born hurler returned from injury and settled right into midseason, err postseason form! The Phillies had make ends meet for a period of about two months this summer as he recovered from a back injury. Here at Three Springs, we grown an Early Fuji which ripens about a month or more before our "normal" Fuji, called 'Myra'. Due to the weather, we might find ourselves without Fuji for a week or two as the Early Fuji lost a lot of fruit to windfall. When 'Myra' do ripen, they are significantly smaller than the Early Fuji we enjoy now. Similarly, this 2005 NLCS MVP does not measure up size wise with his fellow aces, measuring up at a modest six feet even. What Fuji (and Roy) lack in size is made up for in sweetness. Also, Roy's fluid delivery is tangibly represented on our stand in the form of our Fuji Apple Juice! BONUS!
Ace in the Hole:
- 'Jonathan' Apples - Vance Worley, SP - The Phillies might not have known what they had in Vance Worley without Roy's back injury opening the door for the youngster. He marched through the door and the Phillies won 14 consecutive games he started, at one point. Wow! There's a fair amount of success that can be attributed to this rookie's performance that would be easy to overlook given the celebration heaped on the other starters, however worthy that exercise might be. Simlarly, the Jonathan are VERY easy to overlook but you can't tell the story of our wonderful apples until you at least try one of these underrated gems!
Around the Diamond:
- 'Macintosh' Apples - Ryan Howard, 1B - Ho, hum - Ryan Howard hits another 30 HR and drives in a half-sneeze short of 120 runs to lead the team in both categories. He's as powerful as he is consistent. Sure, his average was down a little but he didn't have much run production batting behind him (not until Hunter showed up at least), after which he cranked it up another notch once he got some protection in the lineup and started seeing better pitches. Macintosh have been around for a while as well, and always deliver that "pop" texture (as opposed to a crunch) - just like the pop in Howard's bat.
- 'Gold Delicious'Apples- Shane Victorino, CF - Here's a player who doesn't get enough national recognition. He provides very reliable defense in center, where defense really can win or lose a ton of games for you. Led the Phillies in batting average, runs scored, and on-base percentage in 2011. Bernie Williams never paced those good Yankees teams in those categories but you heard plenty about him nationally because he was a Yankee. If you're watching the same games I am, you know Bernie Williams wishes he was the player The Flyin' Hawaiian is! Folks, if you actually stop and eat a Gold when it's fresh off the tree, you'll see that you've been missing a great apple this whole time - an apple that "common wisdom" tells you is mushy. Don't buy into that nonsense! Believe in the Victorino-esque nature of the Golds!
- 'Grimes Golden'Apples - Hunter Pence, RF - He might not have the terrific hair as his predecessor Jayson Werth but Pence seems to have the same appeal with the female fans of the Fightin's... and by that I mean his ability to provide lineup protection for Ryan Howard, gun down greedy baserunners with his rocket arm, come up with timely hits and play a hard-nosed, all out brand of baseball. Pence is a "gamer" and has made quite an impression in his brief time in Philly. Grimes won't be around much longer - and while Pence is likely going to be policing things in RF for at least another year or two after this playoff run, this year will seem abbreviated by comparison. Last week for Grimes.
- 'Smokehouse'Apples - Jimmy Rollins, SS - Just like above, just pencil J-Roll in for another terrific year defensively, good average, good on-base percentage and durability at the always-demanding position of shortstop. Jimmy is also fast, even at 32. He reached the 30 stolen base plateu for an eye-popping ninth time in his illustrious career. Smokehouse are never around for too long, but they are as dependable as any other apple in their ability to stand up to a variety of uses for those seeking great flavor in an apple that is decidedly more tart than sweet but not overwhelmingly so. Just like Jimmy, you'll do well not to be caught stealing at our stand in the short time these heirloom apples are around!
- 'Red Delicious' Apples - Placido Polanco, 3B - Two things about Polanco you maybe didn't know: 1) even though his very respectable batting average of .277 in 2011 is down a little bit from some seasons, he still has a career BA of over .300! 2) I know he's been in the bigs for a long time, but I never would have guessed he's 35 years old. That age doesn't make one old by any stretch, but for most baseball players, 35 is pretty long in the tooth. He certainly is outplaying almost every other ballplayer that age. Two unrelated things you maybe did know: 1) Polanco has a very, very large head. 2) Red Delicious apples - they're very red but only so delicious. Read this blog.
Coming Out of the 'Pen
- 'Yellow Barlett' Pears - Antonion Bastardo, RP - Madsen's pitching the ninth, so who'll step into his role and shorten the game another inning with lights out performances in the eighth? Lefty Antonio Bastardo was that guy in a big way. Leading the way with 19 holds, Bastardo was nothing short of phenominal in his role against the league's best in high pressure situations. I might add that with Lidge back in good health, those three relievers give the Phils the same strong bullpen the Rangers mortgaged the future to get... and I'd still take Lidge, Bastardo, Madsen over Uehara, Adams, Feliz. The Barlett Pears will shorten your hunger pangs by being the sweetest thing to grace your tastebuds this week - they're PERFECT right now! Available in bulk online.
- 'Bosc' Pears- Ryan Madsen, CL - Great teams distinguish themselves from good teams in the way they handle adverse situations. Losing closer and Headhouse Market customer Brad Lidge could have been a devastating blow to the 2011 Phillies. Instead, Ryan Madsen rose to the occasion in dominant fashion, saving 32 of 34 save opportunities. Incredible! Plus if Ryan Madsen were a pear (and he's not), we believe he'd have the same gritty texture as the Bosc.
- Apple Butter - John Mayberry, Dom Brown, Ben Francisco, OF - A great example of the depth required to be a truly great team and a divisional champion. Each of these outfielders filled a slightly different role as pinch-hitters, defensive subs, spot-starters for ailing players, DH-ing in interleague games, and filling in as starters missed game for injuries. Similarly, we need all four types of apple butter to satisfy the discerning palates of our market customers.
Some say you'd have to be pretty bold to toot your own horn like this.
Others would say, Farmer Ben is a trumpet player and if you know other trumpet players, you know they can't help themselves. Plus, he's using this blog entry to puff himself up before the crushing realization that all of his Honeycrisp might be worthless after this Hurricane blows through.
"How Do You Like Your Peaches" - Colesville Patch dishes on the best way to enjoy these summer gems
Burst of Flavor at the Fourth Annual Tomato Taste - Silver Spring Patch, after a well-earned tie for second place in last years competition, we narrowly missed the first place crown after, yet again, coming in second place to Mock's 'Sungold' tomatoes. Yet again, we were growing the winning tomato just missed the crown
Folks, it's only under rare and unusual circumstances that I would even consider what I'm about to announce, but I hope folks will understand that these are the very circumstances with which we are faced.
Three Springs will not be attending Sunday's Headhouse Farmers Market or Greenbelt Farmers Market 8/28 in light of the expected landfall of Hurricane Irene.
Philadelphia customers are encouraged to find your favorite Three Springs peaches and apples at any/all of the following fine retailers: Weaver's Way Coop, Sue's Produce in Rittenhouse, GreensGrow Farms, Green Aisle Grocery, and Harvest Local Foods. Please note, an announcement regarding the status of Sunday's Headhouse Market in general from The Food Trust is forthcoming. The market itself could remain open - please check their Facebook, Twitter, and mailing lists for up to the minute details.
Greenbelt customers are encouraged to visit us this Saturday at Silver Spring Farmers Market, as well as next Saturday at Silver Spring Farmers Market between Fenton and Georgia Avenues on Ellsworth Drive, downtown Silver Spring. The Greenbelt Farmers Market does not operate the day before labor day. Please be aware also, an official decision regarding the status of the Greenbelt Farmers Market in general is also forthcoming and I encourage everyone to await offical word from their Facebook, Twitter, and email correspondence regarding whether or not the market proper will be open this Sunday.
I felt like I had to be proactive in regards to making a decision for our farm in advance of these official decisions regarding weather cancellations because I needed to devote the extra attention to getting the most out of our Saturday markets as a result. I also feel strongly that these markets will not be open, having seen the updated path of the Hurricane.
I don't need to explain to folks that, with the additional cancellation of our Wednesday Health and Human Services market due to after effects of the earthquake, that having four markets in one week rather than seven at the heighth of our season is certainly a step in the wrong direction. Furthermore, the winds and weather resulting from this Hurricane are likely to affect the quality and supply of everything we grow on our farm including, notably, our Honeycrisp and Gala apple crops, the lion's share of which remains unharvested as of right now and is likely to become "windfalls" - an unmarketable product.
Keep smiling, folks. It's bound to get better. We've endured freaky weather before.
PS, if someone is willing to make the jump from "plague of locusts" to stinkbugs... plus the weather we're having... nah, just a coincidence!
See, smilin' already!
- Farmer Ben
The year 2010 was one for the books! It had its ups and downs and tested our mettle in a lot of ways, but we're all the better for it. There was plenty doing on the farm, where a new building project, drought conditions, lightning strikes, and stink bugs kept us manically occupied. Market wise, we tried new market endeavors at Silver Spring, H&HS building, Crossroads, Greensgrow Farms, and, briefly, The Piazza at Schmidts (was that all?). In other news, our apples were eaten by the President of the United States of America and we became our local industry's first Food Alliance certified fruit farm. Relive all this and more in our Blog Highlights 2010, farm photos, and press clippings from 2010. We'll also update you on our offseason and have a peek ahead into what to expect in 2011. Enjoy!
The Year in Blog!
The History of the much-malligned Red Delicious <check out a commenter from Spain!>
The Year in Pictures
- Yfrog acct twitter photos - I see concerts in the offseason!
- plixi pics including apple anomolies and the famous US-15 northbound Zebra!
- PASA's slideshow of our Field Day
- H&HS Market open slideshow from H&HS - Ben meets Sect. Sebelius
- Several plugs on All We Can Eat farmers market report in Washington Post - great for DC foodies
- FarmPlate had a nice write-up on Headhouse Farmers Market
- Our Food Alliance press release gets picked up by Food CEO and Philly Food Feed
- Metro Philly on Offseason Activities
- Talkin' Social Media with Greensgrow on Farm to Table
Offseason review: Nov. '10 - April '11
We take offseason education very seriously around here, as this story suggests. This year, I wanted to spend some time quantifying that fact. Below is a listing of all the leadership meetings and educations meetings we attended this offseason between Thanksgiving and the first Silver Spring Market.
- Haygrove High Tunnels Mtg, Dec (Lancaster)
- Future Harvest CASA, Reisterstown (presenter)
- PA Farm Show (54 man hours - Harrisburg)
- 3 Vendors Meetings for Farmers Markets
- FarmCredit Ag Business Class - Webinar, 3 meetings
- State Horticultural Assoc. of PA - 5 meetings combined
- Mid-Atlantic Fruit & Vegetable Convention (Hershey - 3 days, presenter)
- Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (State College, 2 days, presenter)
- Adams County Fruit Growers Association Ann'l Meeting
- County Ag Summit
- half day meeting with our tree fruit extension educators (stink bug preparedness)
- Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Board (2 mtgs)
- Wholesale Marketing Seminar (Syria, VA)
We spend a lot of time fixing equipment as well, in addition to long term business planning (including planting plans) and getting our signs ready for market season - all those details. There's all kinds of training and permits to achieve before markets start as well. We do have time for leisure as well including events like Fair Food Philly's "Brewer's Plate" and the occasional music performance in the area. I like to play a little music too - I crammed over 20 performances into this little offseason window and visited some out of town friends.
Looking Ahead to 2011
A formal announcement of our market schedule for 2011 is forthcoming, but I'm willing to get the details out to those folks brave enough to keep reading this far down! We were doing too much last year, so there are a few changes. Here's the preliminary plan:
- FRESHFarm's Silver Spring Market - back starting April 2nd (at the Panera location) and staying every week 'till Christmas
- Headhouse Farmers Market - back and better than ever! Market starts May 1.
- Kenilworth Farmers Market - back at a new, larger area of the same parking lot! Come "down the hill" from Stebbins to shop with us starting May 3rd!
- Greenbelt Farmers Market - back in our corner stand again in 2011! Opening week is May 8th!
- FRESHFarm's Health & Human Services Market - back with new times! Join us every Wednesday from 11am to 2pm over your lunch break under our new, shady tent! Market starts May 18th!
We made the decision not to return to Crossroads Farmers Market and Greensgrow Farmers Market in 2011. We like those markets a lot and we especially like the people operating them who are top notch and true, geniune local food advocates. It was a hard decision for us to make, but we felt we were over-extended and needing to cut back on our markets for this year. PLEASE, if you were a customer there, please continue to patronize these markets because they are terrific and run by some pretty special people. There are a couple other options we are considering for markets in 2011, but what you see could be what you get for us this year.
And with that, we're only 12 days away from the first Silver Spring market of 2011! It's about that time, folks!
Alrighty, Phils fans! Playoffs are in full swing again this year and we're back with another winning apple lineup! As some of you already know, we've been doing farmers markets in Philly for four years and, not coincidentally, the Fightins have won the NL East every year (I'm definitely not omitting Chase Utley again this year)! Furthermore, I've likened the Phillies players to our ripe apple varieties each year, leading, by in large, to terrific postseason performances like what we witnessed from Doc Halladay last night. Afterall, I was brainstorming this lineup last night when I had to stop and watch history be made! Bodes well, folks. We've got high Apple Pie in the sky hopes!
Honeycrisp - Roy "Doc" Halladay, SP He's the best! What else can you say? He won 21 games, first 20 game winner since Steve Carlton. Honeycrisp is the perfect eating apple, "Doc" threw a perfect game! The National League is certainly wishing that an apple a day could keep "Doc" away (we don't sell to the competition). side note: he's driving in a run as I type this!
Jonagold - Roy Oswalt, SP - The Phillies are set up for big things based on their "Bermuda Triangle" of starting pitching (H-2,O). Our "Big Three" (which is really four) includes Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Gala (and Fuji, more on this later). And since Roy was the last piece of the Triangle (as Jonagold is the last of these varieties to ripen), it's easy to see the similarity between this Texas righty and this... sweet/tart... crunchy piece of fruit... am I right?
Gala - Cole Hamels, SP - Cole was the first of the Triangle to arrive on the scene, in early August! No, wait... those were the Gala. Hamels has been with the Phillies since being a first round pick of the club in the 2002 draft. He's had a bounce back season in 2010, has a really sweet flavor, and is the perfect size for kids lunchboxes! Oh... switch that... err... I think you follow.
Fuji - Chase Utley, 2B - The man was an unstoppable force in last years postseason and this fruit grower is looking forward to more of the same from this slick-hitting second baseman. In light of his unforgivable and errant initial exclusion in this lineup last year, Chase is taking his rightful place at the top of our apple pecking order. Also, be sure to cut up a sweet Fuji apple to balance the tangy salad dressings or sharp cheeses in your postseason snacking.
Red Delicious - Jayson Werth, OF - Jayson Werth's got a great look about him, with the bushy beard and the long hair. Red Delicious looks good in a fruit bowl beside a banana! ... sweet!
Golden Delicious - Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz, C - Phils fans, hear me out. You know how you've exhausted yourself trying to explain how important Chooch is to the Phils to fans of other teams? This is how I feel about folks who tell me Golds are mushy! Most Underrated Phillie and Most Undeerrated Apple are a perfect pairing... kind of like Golds with Peanut Butter when the Phils are up four runs in the fourth (as I write this lineup Wednesday night).
Empire - Shane "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Victorino, OF - More proof that good things come in small packages, this diminuative switch hitter's 18 home runs was good for third on a team loaded with (albeit injured, in some cases this year) power hitters. Empire apples, also generally smaller, are thin-skinned and tasty - a little more sweet than tart.
Ida Red - Wilson Valdez, IF - Worthy of attention, this journeyman filled in admirably, providing steady defense at many infield positions while many of the Phillies infield regulars missed time to various injuries. Ida Reds fill pies well, provide firm, steady texture to many baking applications and fills many positions for apple fans who bake, enjoy a tart eating apples, or need a good cider base!
Nittany - Ryan Howard, 1B - When Ryan turns on that inside fastball, his creamy-smooth swing gets Phillies fans all charged up. The creamy sweet-tart flavor of the Nittany apple is a real homerun for folks who love good eating apples (rimshot).
Cameo - Raul Ibanez, LF - The man who made Phillies fans forget completely about Pat Burrell is getting primed for the postseason. Despite more moderate numbers in most power statistics, Ibanez hit for a slightly better average and got on base more frequently this year compared to last. It's easy to let his torrid 2009 campaign make light of his key contributions to this year's club. Cameo have super tart-sweet flavor and share a name with a funky 80's band... they can't all fit together nicely, folks!
Granny Smith - Brad "Lights Out" Lidge, CL - He's back! In addition to moonlighting as a local food advocate (cheers, Brad, Lindsay and Food Trust folks), he converted an eye-popping 27 of 32 save situations and put himself in contention for comeback player of the year, though I'm sure Brad would tell you he has his mind of some other hardware. All he's done is show up at the end of games and kick the door shut. By comparision, Granny Smiths show up at the end of the apple harvest season and, despite their very docile monicker, kick in with a booming tart flavor.
Rome Beauty - Ben Francisco, OF - Cliff Lee might have moved on, but he wasn't the only man to come over in that fateful trade from Cleveland. Francisco, besides having the best praenomen on the roster (pip, pip) adds to a deep bench that can make or break a team's postseason bid. He's also perfect in steals this season, swiping eight bags without being caught stealing. If you're needing a sturdy apple to add to your playoff pie, we give Rome Beauty high marks. We just ask that you pay for them as opposed to stealing them. Just because Ben Francisco doesn't get caught doesn't mean you won't and besides, we round down to the quarter every time!
Mutsu - Placido Polanco, IF - Placido Polanco might have the largest head in the history of Major League baseball! Look at the size of that gourd! It's like a watermelon on a toothpick! But seriously, the former Phil came back to play everyday third base and didn't disappoint. Feel better, P-squared. By the way, the largest Mutsu apples are the size of a toddler's cranium... nothing grows to the size of Polanco's noggin. I swear pop-outs get stuck in its orbit.
Bosc Pears - Jimmy Rollins, SS - The former NL MVP missed a lot of time to injury and probably isn't 100% yet but is one of the most important players on which the Phillies rely. He provides gold glove caliber defense up the middle, gets on base and sets the table for the big eaters in the lineup, all while providing a lot of the inspiration in the clubhouse. Despite his sweet, smooth athleticism, he plays with a lot of grit. Similarly, despite their gritty texture, the Bosc Pears are the sweetest fruit at Three Springs... its the only pear we have this time of year. Here's hopin' Jimmy & Chase turn a "pear" every chance they get this postseason! (just a reminder that cheesy goes with pears just as well as with apples)
Also, most of you know about Brad and Lindsay Lidge's Campaign with the Food Trust for Healthy Eating but if you didn't, here's some info:
Your last chance to mold our little fruit stand at your favorite farmers market in accordance with your will! It'll only take a moment - I'll leave it up for a few more weeks and then share the results!
So, it was brought to my attention that I neglected to include Chase Utley, hero of Game 1, in this year's Apple Lineup. Now, I could sit here and try to come up with excuses or try to explain how this happened but I won't. It's unacceptable. Heck, even the New York press has gone out of its way to honor the guy. To try to make up for my error, I'm going to go to the heartfelt, albeit completely unoriginal, lengths of writing him a creepy love letter:
I feel like I can call you Chase because... its your name. Chase Utley, you're a guy who's really good at baseball. You play baseball better than... well, everyone I know! Awesome! Someday, I would like to sell you some fruit. I think that maybe you would like the fruit and in eating my fruit, nourish yourself to hit the ball even further and harder than you already do. You run fast, too. Maybe after you're done hitting mammoth home runs and running fast, we could get together and talk about fruit... and baseball, ya know - whatever. Because that's what friends do... when one's an awesome and fast baseball player with cool hair and the other friend grows fruit. I hope you write me back because you are like the Honeycrisp... of my heart.
From Our Farm, to Your Home,
First off in the interest of full disclosure, the Wenk family are all lifelong Orioles fans... since birth! However, in the three years we've been doing farmers markets in Philadelphia, the hometown Phillies have won three consecutive NL East crowns, topping it off with a World Series Championship just last year. So you're probably thinking, They aren't seriously taking credit for the Phillies success are they? Of course we're not (we're not going to turn any down if you're willing to go there)... But! The previous two years we've toasted the Phillies by describing our apple varieties by the Phillies player they most resemble or which player comes to mind... or vice versa. This year will be no different. Since the Orioles have long punted on the idea of playing postseason baseball, we're pulling for the next nearest team to vanguish all other playoff opponents, most especially, the New York Yankees (who we hate passionately). So without further adieu, a tradition unlike any other pairing fruit and baseball, a goofy, cheesy, zaney look at your 2009 NLCS Champion Phillies... in apple varieties!
Honeycrisp - Ryan Howard, 1B - Your 2009 NLCS MVP is as vital to the Phils as the Honeycrisp are to our apple stand. They are our MVP and, like Ryan, are large in stature and come up clutch when you need an apple (or a timely three run HR in his case).
Gala - Shane Victorino, CF - Danke, Shane! What else do you want the guy to do? Hit for average? Hit for power? A little speed on the basepaths? Chase down balls in the gap? Just a great all around, reliable player much like Gala are a great go-to eating apple
Jonagold - Jayson Werth, RF - Huge season for Jayson, huge season for Jonagold. This was Werth's best year statiscally and this is the best crop of Jonagold we've had. They are large (see Werth, Jayson) and are a huge part of our apple cornucopia.
Fuji - Cliff Lee, SP - Fuji came to us from Japan. Cliff came to us from the Cleveland Indians. On arrival, we marvelled at the sweetness of both! What's more, whether you need eight shutout innings or crispness at room temperature for months after harvest, both Fuji and Cliff Lee can go the distance!
Staymen/Winesap - Carlos Ruiz, C - CHOOCH! There's something about a firm, tart apple that says "catcher" to me. Plus, Ruiz has set records for run production from the eighth spot in the order. Staymen also ripen late... eh? Works for me!
Cortland - Joe Blanton, P - Coming in at 250lbs in your media guide, Blanton is a pretty big guy serving a pretty big role in your playoff rotation. Between Pedro, A.J., and Blanton, skipper Charlie Manual can hand pick which starter is best suited for which matchup. These Cortland are also huge and versitile. Make them your starting salad apple or bring 'em out of the pen for a tasty homemade apple sauce!
Nittany - Pedro Feliz, 3B - It's easy to overlook Nittany, what with such delicious eating apples as Honeycrisp, Gala, Jonagold, and Fuji already lining the shelves. However, Gold Glove caliber defense and a few timely hits are not to be overlooked. Coming from Golden lineage (Golden Delicious, parent variety), Nittany, like Pedro Feliz, is not to be overlooked. Very vital part of any successful fruit stand/Championship baseball team.
Mutsu - Jimmy Rollins, SS - "J Roll" comes up huge when you need him and is noted for his speed on the bases... and also a great baserunning in general, for that matter. Mutsu comes off the tree huge every time! They just don't produce small fruit! And, due to their popularity, they're "going fast"! Same thing, right?!
Golden Delicious - Pedro Martinez, SP - There's this apple I know that is a delicious eating apple. It's been around a long time - been successful for many years yet, oddly, some people still take it for granted. They underestimate it because other versions of this apple are old and mushy. Guess the Dodgers won't make the same mistake with Pedro Martinez again, hmm?
Red Delicious - The Phanatic, mascot - Red Delicious are the same color as the Phillies uniforms.
Empire - Charlie Manual, "skipper" - Why is it geniuses from Bristol, CT think that anyone who talks with a southern accent is stupid, crotchedy or both. Charlie has led the Phillies to back to back National League pennants which hasn't happened since '95-'96! Wonder what these same folks would have to say if Charlie defeated their darlings in "The Evil Empire"? (Empire apples, while discovered and researched in New York, do not possess the same evil qualities as the presumed AL champion New York Yankees)
Rome Beauty - Paul Bako, C - Only so good for a "snacko", but terrific apples with which to Bako. (read: Bake-o... I know it's pronounced differently, Paul is a former Oriole afterall!)
Cameo - Ben Francisco, OF - Usually coming off the bench to start a rally from the pitcher's spot in the lineup, Francisco's cameo appearances can help the Phils start one of their legendary late inning rallies. When we need to rally in late apple season, the Cameo make an appearance to match Staymen as a dessert quality tart eating apple.
Bartlett Pears - Eric Bruntlett, IF - He swears up and down that these fruit are named after him, but I'm not buying it. Remember that time he recorded an unassisted triple play? That was pretty cool.
Bosc Pears - Matt Stairs, OF/PH - In case of emergency, use Pears.
Its with both trepidation and anticipation that I blog my first entry at our new website! Not only has the website come along nicely, but so also has a number of other things around the farm. Meanwhile, we're preparing to attend a few May markets for the first time and, in light of these things, I'm getting awfully nervous about this crop season... but then again, if things always went as planned, I wouldn't have chosen this dynamic, frustrating, unpredicatable line of work in the first place!
The good news - lots of new things happening around here! Specific to what you can expect to see at these early markets, we have lettuce, broccoli, and radishes we're gonna try to have early for all of you. These should be ready to plant out next week or the week after (more on this later). So that's good! Our first-ever batch of Three Springs Homemade Apple Sauce turned out very well! In a more broad sense, as you've likely noticed by now, the website, while not complete, has progressed to the point where it feels like "ours" now! That feels good too. We've also been busy planting with so much more to come - the 2009 half of our exciting, progressive sweet cherry planting is in the ground! We have plenty of new apple varieties (old apple varieties but new trees, in some cases), plus plenty more peaches and blueberries all on the docket for our spring planting schedule.
Which leads right into the trepidation! We certainly needed the rains over the weekend and we were fortunate enough to miss the nasty stuff. Now, if fortune could smile on us once more, we'd get the 10 days of sun required to take the edge off my worried mind in consideration of all those things above that we've yet to plant. Right now, the near future is pretty wet, so we'll have to play it by ear.
The countdown is ON! Here's when you can expect us where to start the season! The next time you hear from me, it'll be our first "Fresh From Our Farm" update of the season!
From Our Farm To Your Home,
OPENING DATES (see also, our calendar):
May 2nd - *brand new* Lutherville, MD Market! Corner of Joppa and Falls, 2:30 - 6pm
May 3rd - Headhouse
May 3rd - Greenbelt
May 6th - Wakefield Park
June 6th - Harbor East
June 9th - Kenilworth