2015 Season Wrap Up

Here we are, the end of another year! Where has the time gone? First off, we send a big thank you to each and every one of you for your support, encouragement and patronage in 2015. We

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are continually humbled by your love of our farm and fruit.

With one year ending and another beginning, we thought it appropriate to share a small update on where the farm is and where we hope to be going! To make things a bit easier, let me break things down in order of fruit…

Strawberries — 2015 was a great year for fruit production and flavor. Our plan for the future is to continue to grow a similar amount of strawberries (2-3 acres), to have both you pick & we pick options, and to sell at the mid-week and Saturday Farmer’s Markets whenever possible. Our greatest challenge with strawberries is a blight/fungus that often affects the leaves towards the end of the season (especially in a wet year). Although this blight has been mild overall in our experience, it does greatly affect our Jewel variety, causing the season to end sooner than it should. With this challenge in mind, it is our plan to experiment next year by applying a homemade, nonchemical fungicide to our plants BEFORE flowers and fruit even set. This will hopefully give the plants a stronger defense against the wet spring. And as always, we will continue to use sustainable and earth-friendly methods to care for the soil and the fruit.

Rhubarb – Last year we transplanted a large volume of rhubarb in a new area. We are hopeful that we will have more to sell both at the farm and the Farmer’s Market. So… those of you who love your strawberry rhubarb pies or jams can now get all your produce in the same place!

Asparagus – Several years ago we planted 25 asparagus plants and we are excited to finally be able to harvest from them in 2016. Depending on how much our family consumes, we do plan to have at least some to sell both at the farm and the Farmer’s Market. If this is something you would like us to continue to sell/grow. Please let us know… for if the demand is there, we will plant more!

Raspberries – Having a significant field of you pick raspberries has been our greatest challenge in recent years. Our first rock to step over was a blight that arrived with the really wet spring we had several years ago. To fix this we prepared a new, healthy field in 2014 and planted 400 new raspberry canes in that field in 2015. These new canes are looking great! However… the challenges didn’t stop there.Three years ago a new fruit pest, spotted wing drosophilia, found its way into MN. We have worked hard to fight the pest with natural means. We’ve used cider vinegar traps to catch pests before they can reproduce. We’ve pruned & weeded more vigorously, allowing for more circulation within the rows & less hiding places for the bugs. And we’ve clean harvested… which is going back over the plants and picking all the “bad” fruit and disposing of them where they cannot reproduce and harm our fruit. Needless to say, all of these techniques are extremely time-consuming and costly. And since massive weekly or biweekly spraying with chemicals is not a part of our belief system, we have decided to no longer offer you pick raspberries, effective in 2016.

We have completely gotten rid of our older raspberry field (the one picked on in 2015) and now just have our 400 new plants (200 of summer variety & 200 of fall variety). Although we will no longer have you pick raspberries, we do still hope to have prepicked raspberries available as much as we can physically keep up with. We will send notes and post on facebook & our web page when those are available…. and we understand that many of you will likely be disappointed in this change, but we believe that right now in our farm & family life, it is the best decision.

Blackberries – These late fruiting favorites have caught the eye of many of our customers. And though we will likely never have a you pick patch (for many of the same reasons we mentioned in the raspberry notes), we are planning to expand in this variety, planting 100 new plants in 2016. It may be a couple of years until we have larger quantities, but we will keep you posted.

Concord grapes – After the damage from the 2013-2014 cold winter, we were pleased to see fruit production bounce back nicely on these in 2015. Unfortunately, the warm fall temperatures were extremely hard on all that fruit. We saw way more asian beetles and hornets feasting in our vineyard than we want to see. We could’ve sprayed the plants with an insecticide, but again… it’s not our philosophy. When you spray insecticides you not only kill the bad bugs, but the good ones as well, throwing the balance off even further. We are hopeful that 2016 will continue to see more regrowth in the vines and another great year of grapes… with more seasonal temperatures!

Honeyberries and other misc. fruit – Our oldest son has been excited for us to try some of the more unusual berries. And now that we have another field prepared with healthy soil, we will begin adding and experimenting with small amounts of new fruit varieties over the next several years. Our first fruit to add in 2016 will be honeyberries, which are supposed to be very sweet and ripen BEFORE strawberries! Other possibilities in our future include lignon berries, gogi berries, elderberries and black currants. Please let us know if you have a strong opinion on something new you’d like us to try.