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News and blog

Keep up to date with the latest news on the farm and at your market!
Posted 7/3/2012 1:03pm by Ben Wenk.

Name This Restaurant in Comments and Win Something!I'd been doing farmers markets for about three years before I realized I was part of the food industry.  I know that sounds silly, but we farmer types are very territorial and are so proud to be counted among the roughly 0.6% of the population in our country who work in agriculture, we are slow to recognize this crossover. 


But now I'm lovin' it!  I've met a lot of great people working in food and it's changed a lot about what we do here at Three Springs.  We're like kindred spirits - those living in the farming and restaurant realms.  We all love what we do (most of the time), keep weird and long hours, put up with a lot of bologna, and bring a unique perspective to everyday things.  I like being in the food industry and I thank them for making hayseeds much like myself and others of my ilk to be welcome in their company.


What I didn't expect from my newfound role in food was to receive praise from some of their finest - and both in the same month, for what its worth!


The first was some lovin' we got from none other than...


In this sweet review of Headhouse Market!  Cheers to Blooming Glen, Birchrun Hills, Market Day Canele, and Wild Flour Bakery who make Sunday mornings fun and delish for us too!


I was told the famous window sticker is in the mail...


The second was a shout out from The Philly Inquirer's Craig LaBan.  The renown restaurant critic gave us special props in the open of his weekly food chat.  Then, hit us back on twitter with this juicy  review:


I believe the first ever "four ripe cherry" review?


For our readers at the James Beard Foundation and Michelin Guide, our contact information can be found at the bottom of this blog!


That was a joke guys.



Posted 5/1/2012 8:34am by Ben Wenk.

I try to answer every question I'm asked - from regular customers to random web wanderers.  But if there is any query that is likely to stand out from the crowd, it's an intriguing question from a web lurker overseas.  We received a comment matching this description (ref. "Ask" vol II) from Prasanjit this week, checking in from India:

Prasanjit said,
4/30/2012 @ 3:23 am

We're located in the city of Mumbai, India. We have lawys loved growing our own veggies, and I decided to grow an apple seedling, from the seed of a Granny Smith apple. After it sprouted and began to leaf well, I tried the same with Gala and Red delicious apples too. Now I have 4-5 young saplings, 2 each of GS and Gala, and one of Red Delicious.

I have now begun to realise that I will likely not get a GS apple from a GS sapling. However, is it possible for me to graft between these saplings I've grown from seed, and obtain a GS/Gala/Red delicious apple? Do let me know. I would really love to be able to grow these on our farmland, and atleast receive one type of edible apple from these 5 saplings I'm growing.

Thank you.

seedling rootstock treeThank you, Prasanjit!  It's actually a fairly difficult thing to rear an apple tree from a seed, so you're doing quite well for starters.

For the history buffs out there, grafting has been an agricultural practice for more than 4000 years by some accounts.  Even today all fruit orchards depend on the skilled grafting hand of a nurseryman to provide the trees that feed people.  The same is true for any number of nut trees, grape vines, and a whole slug of ornamental trees and plants.  

To address your question, you can graft any variety on those those seedlings and produce apples of a variety you prefer.  What you'll need is some scionwood (budwood) and a little education.  Just to reemphasize for clarity, you'll need to have cuttings of a living, growing Red Delicious or Granny Smith tree to have the budwood to graft over the seedlings.  

Without knowing the diameter of your seedling, it's hard to provide foolproof advice.  Provided your seedling trees are at least 5/8 inches in diameter (that's about 16mm), you should have enough plant material to chip bud your seedlings.  You'll want to leave the top of the tree grow and make leaves to feed the rest of the tree.  Using the chip budding techniques in the videos below, you'll be able to attach several buds to each seedling and they should grow - provided your cuts were straight and sterile and your union (cambium to cambium for all my fellow botany nerds) is good.  

What might be fun is to leave the top of the tree, the old variety, in long enough to try some fruit before you cut it out.  Sure, it may be nothing like the Granny smith you hoped for, but it might be a good variety, you never know.  Perhaps it will be a new discovery - the world's greatest apple!  Just don't forget who suggested leaving that branch in when the budwood is distributed!

And if the apples aren't good, just cut that part out!

- Farmer Ben


Further "Ask A Grower" reading:

Posted 4/30/2012 9:40am by Alana Anderson.

Hi, hey, and hello!

It’s the last day of April and looking mighty nice outside. We will have temps in the 70s over the next three days with thunderstorms possibly dampening our first day in Towson, MD. That’s right-we have our season kickoff tomorrow at The Shoppes at Kenilworth in Towson from 3:30 to 6:30 PM! It’s a lovely little market with phenomenal produce, delicious grass raised meats, herbs, flowers, and the tastiest treats by Ruth (our market neighbor) I have looked upon in my short and silly life.Hark! Our sign welcomes you!

The Kenilworth market runs from May 1 to the week of Thanksgiving in the parking lot of the Kenilworth Mall. I really like the feel of this market-the vendors are all friendly and enjoy good relationships. It has a small town feel. Dog and kid friendly-what a deal. But to top it all off, Atwater’s Bakery and Restaurant is nearby and makes use of the available produce every week! They incorporate the fresh finds into their menu and strive to accomplish this at their many locations. Since I can diminish the swell of my Black & White in mere seconds, and eat there almost weekly, I heartily encourage you to sample their wares when you pass through. They even have a bread stand at the market-it also appears at our Silver Spring, MD location, too! You can visit their website here:

One of our good friends and neighboring vendor is One Straw Farm and CSA. They should arrive at our market the second week of June and have a smorgasbord of options. Joan and Drew Norman work diligently to uphold their personal and professional standard of organic practices, and push that standard when they find innovative technology in the field. Ben speaks very highly of them and I am impressed with Joan’s tenacity and warmth every time I see her. Visit their site at:

In other GREAT NEWS: We open our season at Headhouse in Philly this Sunday (May 6th) at 10am! It is a packed market with a long list of stellar vendors, a wide range of products, and a great downtown location. It’s a great place to shop for fruits, veggies, canned goods, flowers, pastries, and then eat at one of the food trucks/stands! It’s in the heart of historic Philly, with gorgeous brick houses leading out to the waterfront if you are the wandering type. This is Ben’s baby and a huge reason for him returning to the farm and starting these markets. It you want to catch a family affair, join him this Sunday and meet his charming mother, Emily, his soon-to-be brother in law, Russ, and family friend, Erica! The market hours are 10 AM to 2 PM, but the best produce is yours for the picking when you arrive at the START of market. Always keep this in mind at the peak of summer-all soft fleshed fruit should be snatched immediately so you can wash and cool it! We tried to ask our customers to bring Tupperware to market last year to store their berries…it works better than jostling around in the display cartons we use. I plan on writing a blog in the future about canning since it’s staging a comeback among the younger generation-YAY! Even washing and freezing your fruits when you get home increases its staying power and offers you tasty summery options in the dark days of winter.

The Shambles at Headhouse in Philly

Alrighty then-we covered this week’s new markets but what about the second week of May? I have answers! May 9th marks the start of Farmers on the Square OUTSIDE market in Carlisle, PA. Running from 3 PM to 7 PM, we will be taking over the front courtyard of the gorgeous stone Presbyterian Church on Carlisle Square. Very kid friendly, with activities for them and space to run around, parents, grandparents, and young alike can browse to their heart’s content. We have the Dickenson Farm, Pretty Meadow, Roots (cut flowers), pastries, chicken and eggs and jars of goodies from the Otterbeins, and several more vendors! This market runs outside until late October and then moves inside on the Dickenson Campus.

If you like the vendors and feel of Farmers on the Square, then please come out this Thursday (May 3rd) to the Farmers on Walnut interest meeting held at the Cleve J. Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill at 6:30 PM. We have been pursuing a market at the Library in Camp Hill with resistance from a small number of residents, who believe that we will bring large crowds, large farm equipment, and a lack of safety to their quiet neighborhood. We have been feverishly working to dispel these fears (to limited success) at monthly Council meetings, but if you haven’t made it before, please attend the Library meeting to get a general idea of what is offered at a farmer’s market, chip in your opinion, and support fresh local produce in Camp Hill in a safe neighborhood. We also need experience farmer market attendees to speak up because some people are saying that baked goods and other non-fresh items have “no place or purpose” at a farmers market. Say whaaaaaaaaat??! Please visit the Library website for more info and the address:

 If you live in the Camp Hill area and would like to attend a Thursday market from 3 PM to 7 PM from May 24th until November, show up and speak up! Our main goal is for a market to happen in Camp Hill, with baked goods and a variety of vendors. Please help us achieve that goal-one that adds to the health and happiness of Camp Hill’s residents.

On May 12th, we begin our weekly trip to Fell’s Point in Baltimore, MD! It’s the 2nd annual Fell’s Point Farmer’s Market running 7:30 AM to Noon , May through October! You can visit their Facebook page: to see the impressive vendor list, check out nearby restaurants (it’s so worth it), and see the gorgeous view of the waterfront! Our stand is run by Josh, a long term stellar employee, Shane (2 years of air-guitar EXCELLENCE), and Pam (a very lovely lady poached from our Towson market). Check out the good looks and better tasting produce in two weeks! Extra incentive: the genius popcorn vendor from Silver Spring (Capitol Kettle Corn) will be at the market with his amazing Ethiopian mix. I ate 2 bags. 2 BAGS. I haven’t eaten popcorn like that since the Lion King, folks. I ate it. All. Ohhh, drool.

If that doesn’t bring you in, then I’m out of ideas. Wait, no I’m not. Because it’s Apple Blossom Festival on May 5th and 6th!!! If you love apples and supporting the industry that works hard to provide tasty and beautiful apples, join us at the South Mountain Fairgrounds this weekend to eat too many delicious items, shop handcrafted gifts for Mama, watch clogging, local musicians (BLUEGRASS-YES.), and cheer on the Apple Queen candidates. Shout out to the Baugher clan-OO Yeah! For a full list of vendors, activities, and a description of our orchard tours, go to the festival site: Dave Wenk will be hosting Orchard tours on Sunday, I shall be there helping with my pet project, Crunch Quest, and if those aren’t great reasons to attend-besides oodles of free parking, I am at a loss. If you have kids or just love scavenger hunts, come out for Crunch Quest-a scavenger hunt for all ages-but particularly those 4-11-and learn about Apples For Health. This is the second year that the Adams County Fruit Growers Associate, Penn State Extension, and WellSpan have partnered to design and host this activity for children to become more aware about apples and their own health. I had the lucky opportunity to design (with many necessary and appreciated suggestions) the Quest and I sure as heck hope that it learns ya good.King Apple Blossom in our orchard

Well. That was a lot of info and I bet your reeling. No? Well then, aren’t you a smarty?

Yes you sure are-because you’re following a farm blog and becoming more informed about what you eat and how it gets to your table. Good for you! Now get out there, conquer the day and the carp, and attend some community festivities this weekend!




There Be the Crates!

Posted 3/31/2012 11:42am by Ben Wenk.

The "Never EVER Call it the Offseason" Blog

  • Weather Update
  • We're Honored with Two Awards
  • A More Updated Weather Update
  • Market Season is HERE? Yes... yes, it is!


March Thunderstorms, March RainbowsStrange world we live in, aint it folks?

On the heels of the most difficult growing season for at least a generation, the strange bedfellow we aggie types have in Mother Nature has brought us a spring so early it's off the charts.  Perhaps remorseful over all her perilous tricks last year, the Earth, it appears, is in a super big hurry to start a new growing season and strike the last one from our minds.  We're cutting a pretty wide path these days, so I'd have to say she's been successful in doing so.  Let's talk shop.

In early March, we got 17 degrees overnight.  This past Tuesday the 27th, we got 26 at one farm, 31 at the other.  Between these two events, we lost some cherries and a few apples.  How many we lost remains to be seen.  It's usually significantly colder in Wenksville than in Gardners, so I'd spent most of the day thinking we're ok.  Unfortunately, the danger still exists to lose our crop because the spring is SO early.  How early?

Peach Bloom before St. Patrick's DayWell, when we look at insect lifecycle models we talk about a unit of measure called degree days which, without getting jargon-y, is essentially a measure of accumulated temperature - I believe it's hours over 43 degrees.  At any rate, as of the third week of March, degree day accumulation was similar to other years... in June.

Just spoke with one of the men who sells us our mating disruption today.  He covers an area spreading from Winchester, VA to the escarpment-ringed Niagra region of Ontario.  The bloom period over this latitudinal range is usually six weeks, as in bloom starts in Virginia normally in mid March and starts in Canada six weeks later.  This year, that gap is three weeks!  Which, if you think about, means many of the crops on the East Coast will all ripen at the same time, negatively affecting the prices farmers can get for their crops (and making us all the more appreciative of the fact we can sell them directly to you and not on a flooded wholesale market)!

the wilted, brown look - not good for cherriesOther sad news, the strawberries were a complete loss - root rot from the deluge this fall.  Fortunately, we will be planting a spot three times larger than the lost patch this spring!

However, as with everything in the farm business, there's a silver lining behind every cloud.  Should we have a crop - still touch and go for another month, this crop will be early which is probably good for everybody.  The winter was so mild, we didn't lose any work days to excessive snow and our pruning is right on schedule despite the early spring.  What this means is we are able to plant in a very timely manner despite it being so darn early - also a very good thing.  


Three Springs Recognized (twice) By Our Peers

While on the subject of good news, we recognized by our peers in the agriculture industry with two awards this winter - either of which would have been the highlight of the chilly months between seasons.

Ben, 2011 Grower of the Year Dave, John at banquetThe first such distinction was my father David Wenk's recognition by the lifeblood organization of the fruit industry, the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania (SHAP), who chose Dave as 2011 Grower of the Year!  Words can't describe what an honor this was for Dave who was able to collect himself on the podium long enough to express his gratitude for his brothers and sisters in the fruit biz, for whom he has such an amazing respect.  Lancasting Farmer was on hand to document the ceremony.  We were able to keep it a secret until the halfway through friend and PSU classmate Matt Boyer's presentation.  He was surprised and honored for sure.

The second distinction belongs John, Ben, & Dave Wenk - Master Farmers 2012 photo courtesy John Vogel, American Agriculturalistto all three owners; John (L), Ben (C), and Dave (R) who were awarded the honor of Master Farmers for the Mid Atlantic area in 2012.  Just as was the case for Dave's "Grower of the Year" honor, it's the recognition of your peers that makes these awards special to us.  While the SHAP honor was chosen by past recipients and board members of that tree fruit organization, the Master Farmer award can be offered to an operation growing any commodity and is chosen by the membership of the Mid Atlantic Master Farmers.  The American Agriculturalist magazine provided coverage here.  We're looking forward to meeting the rest of the Master Farmers at the reception in Harrisburg in early April.

Weather Update:

Bluebird chillin' in our grapes (you read that right)Things continue to play out like a Charles Dickens novel at Three Springs Fruit Farm as we get doused with another frost last Friday (3/30).  Once again, the effects were isolated and mostly minimal.  I'm learning that a lot of our neighbors did not fair as well.  Some businesses are competitive with neighbors in the same field and I'm happy to say the fruit business, likewise agriculture in general - especially our alternative agricultural brotherhood, do not feel competitive with one another by in large.  We ask that you send all of us some good vibes and warm thoughts as it's starting to look like some trying times for many of us in the fruit business in 2012, same as it was in 2011.

Final Thought:

'John Boy' - full bloom in Wenksville 3/2012It's hard to believe that I'll be writing a weekly market update for DC NEXT WEEK in advance of Silver Spring opening 4/7... and that the update WILL include asparagus, AND possibly rhubarb.  Heads up for the official Markets 2012 announcment very soon and don't agonize over any major changes.  If you're expecting to see us, you'll see us for sure!

Posted 1/13/2012 1:15pm by Ben Wenk.

vintage Farmall - Farm Show, courtesy Philly Food FeedSometime I was annointed media ambassador for the PA apple-growing community.  When it happened and who was responsible remain a mystery but it's under investigation.  Regardless, we've got a smattering of news items in the wake of our volunteering time at the PA Farm Show.  If you didn't know, the two apple stands at the Farm show are organized by the State Horticultural Assocation of Pennsylvania and 100% of the proceeds from these booths supports industry research that benefits all of us, from we growers to all you hungry apple-eating customers reading along.

First up was local FOX 43 television, WPMT in York when I do my best Brett Thackera impression and talk weather in this short clip

Then the next day, Penn State Glee Club Alumnus and meteorologist Brett Thackera's colleague Dennis Owens tries to get me to bad mouth organic farming.  Not taking the bait, folks.  Thankfully, he was able to catch up with PASA executive direction Brian Snyder who is much more qualified to speak on behalf of PA organic growers than I am!  Good job, Brian!  And by the way, I've coined the phrase, you may all use the term "local-er" with my permission.  You're welcome, world.

And of course, it's always nice to check in with one of my favorite Philly Food Folks, Ben of the Philly Food Feed.  He blogs farm show here - did a great job as usual.

Posted 12/30/2011 3:15pm by Ben Wenk.

Three Springs Fruit Farm


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 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!



Posted 11/16/2011 3:43pm by Ben Wenk.


PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, don't forget to click to the end and click "submit" to finish the survey and submit your answers!

Posted 11/2/2011 7:24am by Ben Wenk.

Must Eat Cider!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!


FreshFarm MarketsSecondly, 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 brethrenBids 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!

Posted 10/13/2011 11:30am by Ben Wenk.

So I'm mixing my Alton Brown references with "The Tick", and no, I don't expect anyone to keep up with this nonsense.  I'm just be preparing you the reader for my own level of acute, scientific detail I've come to love from Alton Brown as the blog moves along.

On to our question!  This one is a very common question, most recently posed via our twitter account by New York-based food blogger NutmegNanny via our good friend Michelle at eatniks:

"@NutmegNanny Can you store apples in the fridge?"

bulk bins full of freshly harvested apples 25 bu wooden bins and 23 bu plasticNot only can you store apples in your refrigerator, it is my recommendation that you do!  Unlike other edibles - onions, potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes come to mind, that will endure internal cellular damage and flavor alteration when stored at refrigerator temps, apples thrive and endure in your chilly frigidaire (as do peaches, but that's another blog for another time).

While I endorse refrigeration as the preferred method of apple preservation, it does come with a caveat or two.  As the aforementioned Alton Brown frequently reminds his audience, refrigerators are often victims of cross contamination and "flavor blending" and apples are no different.  The best spot for your apples is in the crisper with other veggies and fruits such as greens or carrots, geographically separated from proteins, dairy etc.  Apples are not spoiled by moist environments the way other fruit and veg might be so no extra effort is required to remove your fruits from moisture.  Truthfully, a little moisture will help keep your apples fresh as dry atmospheric conditions in your fridge can cause moisture to be pulled from the fruit - you'll discover this in the form of wrinkled apple skin after prolonged fridge time.  Cut apples are not to be reinstated back into your fridge - seems obvious, but worth mentioning.  

apples - stored much better in modern fridges, than in 1940's mounds under corn stalksHow long is too long?  It's the perfect follow up question, so let's have a look.  A good answer is two weeks but it's not a "catch all" answer.  Trutfully, so many environmental and cultural factors go in to the longevity (or lack thereof) in apples, that it's hard to pin down in a neat and tidy way.  Each apple variety (and there are over 4,000) has its own quirks in regards to storage life.  Fuji, for example, have a history of success in long term storage - maintaining crispness for months in your refrigerator.  Some heirloom or heritage apples, Smokehouse for example, while delicious, do not keep well.  The amount of moisture and rainfall during the growing season and the distribution of rainfall over time plays a huge factor in certain apple varieties keeping better in some years than others.  Jonagold, one of my favorites, is a notoriously inconsistent keeper.  Some years, they are great keepers, others not so much.  Honeycrisp (everyone's favorite) is so finicky a keeper that the way we store ours is just about the only thing our farm values as a "trade secret" that you can't get out of me.  Suffice it to say we go to great lengths to store Honeycrisp differently to preserve their awesome eating qualities.  As chronicled in an earlier blog, apples stored in controlled atmosphere can maintain crispness for nearly a year without any sort of bizarre witchcraft (thanks to land grant ag research, of course).  And while "storage apples" are representative of the fine work we do on this farm and I'll happily put our good name on them, I think we all agree - the closer to harvest the better.  As it is with apples, so should it be with all of our eating.

Historically "Good Keepers"

Arkansas Black
York Imperial
Golden Delicious
Rome Beauty

Historically "Inconsistent Keepers"

Red Delicious


see also,

Ask a Grower I, Roots and Scions - Apple Tree Anatomy

Ask a Grower II, Granny Smith Apple Seeds - Apple Tree Propagation

Ask a Grower III, Clingstone vs. Freestone Peaches

Ask a Grower IV, The Cider Blog - What's Cider, What's Juice?

Ask a Grower VI, Grafting - Part Historic, Part Horticultural Wizardry

Ask a Grower VII, Why Are Peaches Fuzzy?

Posted 9/30/2011 11:46am by Ben Wenk.

Three Springs Fruit FarmGo Phils!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 - Antonio 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.
  • Tomatoes - Chase Utley - just because I don't want to neglect him again!
  • 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.


see also: