Monday, March 27, 2017
Can we just talk about last week?
Guys- last week, we had almost 6 straight days of below freezing temperatures. Yes, we were prepared (well, as much as any farmer can be). It is often common this time of year to dip below freezing once things start to bloom, but for us to have such growth so early (almost a month before normal Spring), and then have such a cold snap, we were scared if our emergency measures would be enough.
Well, we will have strawberries! YAY!! We covered them and irrigated them and, from what we can tell right now, the plants look mostly fine. The berries we had, survived. It's the flowers that took the biggest hit. That means we will have berries for a while, then go for a dry-spell, and then pick back up where we hopefully were going to be this time of year.
But another crop wasn't so lucky: peaches. No, we don't have any peaches on our farm, but we sell peaches from other local farmers. They are a HUGE draw to our stand in the summer and a big part of other farmers' livelihoods.
And this is where I need you to pay attention. Peaches are one of the impulse items which makes our farm stand profitable. Their sweet juicy deliciousness is what makes small diversified farmers and farm stands an economic viability. When you're driving down the road and see a sign that says "squash" do you say- Hold up, Honey! Stop the car! We gotta get a bushel of those squashes! No. You don't. Squash aren't sexy. Neither are cucumbers, beans, basil, beets, kale, lettuce, peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, winter squash, basically 80% of what we grow. We count on those eye catching crops, peaches, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, and pumpkins, to get the customers in the door. And, most of the time, once the customers arrive, get their impulse buy of peaches or tomatoes, they purchase other ancillary items, the items which make running a sustainable, diversified, small family farm, possible.
So what happens when you don't have peaches for sale? Last year, we saw a drop in sales of all things, simply because we were not able to put out our sign that said "Peaches." We didn't get the traffic of previous years when we were able to sell the peaches of our Cabarrus County neighbors. People would stop in, ask if we had peaches, we would have to turn them away, and then they would drive away, not making a purchase. This pattern proved detrimental to our sales during the summer. We had all of the rest of the crops, just not the Sexy Stars which make consumers stop and pick up a pound of beans, three squash, 4 cucumbers, a jar of jelly, honey, and a bar of soap.
So, not only have our friends lost their profitable peaches for two years in a row, now, according to smart business models across the southeast, small diversified farms are not as profitable as they should be when we have our Sexy Stars.
What we need from you, our customers and friends: Please Please Please continue to support us and other small farms this year even though we don't have peaches! Please stop, see what we have, and make your meals according to what's in season. It's easy to cook seasonally when the season is literally fruitful. What's tough, and what's vital, is to support the farms when the weather is difficult and the Sexy Stars aren't so bright. There is still a ton of great, delicious produce out there which will carry our farms through the dim summers-of-few-peaches. If you ever have any questions of how to work our produce in to your diet, just let us know. All of our staff can help you with recipe ideas. We, the farmers of Cabarrus County, need your support in the good years and the bad years. We have bills, just like you, regardless of how the weather treats us.