Monday, June 4, 2012

Letter From Breezy Hill Orchard

Dear CSA Family,

Hello!  After a bizarre winter and a crazy spring, it feels like summer is finally here. Our CSA season is just about underway, so we wanted to give everybody a crop report and a preview of things to come. 

We had an extremely mild winter, which caused the earliest bloom in recorded history.  Don’t tell us it’s not global warming! Unfortunately, three weeks ago, there were devastating hard freezes throughout New York, resulting in very large fruit crop losses.  Many of our dear friends and colleagues will have almost no fruit at all this year.  We feel for them deeply.  Fortunately, our strategy for diversifying by operating three orchards in three counties, although very demanding from a management point of view, was a very good idea this year.  We have taken some very substantial damage in Ulster County. We estimate that crop loss at about $300,000 (ouch.)  But we are a creative and resilient community, and we have a plan… 

Fortunately, because our Columbia County location is a bit of a micro-climate, we have almost a full crop there of peaches, plums, apples and pears.  We expect a lot of early peaches, although the late peach crop is rather small.  We have a few sour cherries, and though the cherry crop is small, we have a dear, fellow grower who will have a bumper blueberry crop, so we will fill in with blueberries as we have other years.  This is a year when the hardy, traditional fruits have shown how tough they are. 

More good news we have some very nice strawberries, although the crop will be small and early. Judging from the bloom, our blackberry crop looks fantastic and we believe we will have many raspberries as well. They are in full bloom right now and the bees are happily pollinating away. 

Last year we took on an additional location in Columbia County, with a remarkable 15 acre planting of some exceptional hand-selected European varieties of blackberries, red, white, and pink currants, gooseberries, and a selection of a fabulous oddball, highly nutritious fruit called Aronia.  The currants are loaded and look beautiful. We expect to be picking them soon, and we urge you this year to revel in some of these rare and special heirloom fruits.  Because of the early bloom, it is possible that by the time all the CSA’s start, the strawberries will be ending.  We will keep you posted, but are going to move mountains to try to get berries to people, at least the first week. 

As always, we thank you for your support and encourage you to please get to the farm this year. Please remember that nature is an intoxicating, ever-changing force, and fruit is especially vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather. 
We have created a Facebook group for our CSA members to help keep communication flowing. You can join here.  

We are looking forward to a great season!

Warmest regard,
Elizabeth, Doreen, and the folks at Breezy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill