When the Hillsdale Market opens at 10:00 AM tomorrow, I will be assisted by my friend Jefferson Graham and his wife Ruth.
When Jeff's family moved from New York to the Berkshires in the early 1970s, he missed the city terribly. We met as two teenagers who had cameras around their necks, processed their won black and white photos, and were otherwise polar opposites in all apparent ways. Jeff is a technology columnist for USA Today and host of Talking Tech. I spend my time consumed by plants, nature and old farm equipment. Nonetheless, his influence in my life was and is substantial. As soon as we had access to a car, we visited his old haunts, Nathan's, Chock-Full-of Nuts for the donuts, and Katz's Delicatessen where you can "Send a Salami to your Boy in the Army." We drove to the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts to see their MGM musical double bills, the old Ancram Opera House to see the old Astair & Rogers RKO musicals in the weltering July heat, and the Village Vanguard to hear Sonny Rollins. For those who have one of our calendars on the wall, credit Jeff for giving me the idea when he sent a calendar celebrating their visit to Ayers Creek. He may even wear down my resistance to technology some day. "When an irresistible force such as you meets an old immovable object such as me . . ." He's working on it but don't hold your breath.
Now a mea culpa, perhaps stir crazy from the five days of rain, last week I let my guard down and had staff harvest some raspberries between the showers. They were delicious and perfect, however any moisture on the raspberry dooms it to a moldy fate. The raspberry is, after all, a hollow fruit and it is in that dark cavity where problems arise. We thought they were dry enough, but we received a call from a longtime customer who told us her red raspberries at the bottom of the hallock were moldy. Her purples were fine, just those delicate reds. We have no idea whether this was an isolated or pervasive problem. If you picked up a hallock or half flat with moldy berries, please take a replacement and tell us. In the future we will hew to the "four hours of sun" rule before picking. One of the challenges we face as a commercial farm is keeping track of quality, and our staff does a good job in that effort. When the farm's owner breaks his own rules, problems happen. We do appreciate feedback from customers who have a problem so we can address it.
This week we will have a good variety of fruit, with Montmorency cherries and purple raspberries in the fore. Both are at their peak quality. We will also have both red and green gooseberries this week, as well as red and black currants. The 95° degree spike on Tuesday will leave us very short on the other cane fruit. For the grains, we will bring cornmeal and popcorn, frumento and the first bit of frikeh. Wild amaranth greens and tarragon as well.
Ayers Creek Farm