Every Friday we post #farmvisitfriday pictures on our Instagram account. All of the photos we post are from farms in the FRESHFARM Markets network. One of our volunteers recently got the opportunity to go on farm visits with FRESHFARM staff, here is her story.
My name is Nina, and some of you may recognize me from the CSA tent at the Foggy Bottom and Penn Quarter farmers markets. I recently graduated from The George Washington University, where I became increasingly involved in various organizations that advocate for sustainable food practices within the community. After graduation I started interning with the FRESHFARM Markets CSA program, where I help order, plan and pack the CSA shares. While there has been lots of learning along the way, a few weeks ago I experienced a lot of firsts.
When I told my friends I was going with to visit a real, live farm for the first time, most of them replied, “You’ve never been to a farm? But you love vegetables!” Interesting. But nonetheless, I was invited to tag along with market managers Sam and Genna and volunteers Elaine and Mariah to visit a few of the FRESHFARM Markets farmers. With the five of us piled into a Zipcar, we made our way towards Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to visit three very different farms.
We first went to tour Kathy’s Kiwi Berries, new to the FRESHFARM family, where Kathy Glahn has invested in the “decade fruit.” Nestled under Little Round Top Mountain, she has grown an orchard of these unique berries that take seven years to start producing fruit. Even after last season’s freeze out, Kathy’s vines will produce a harvest of about 2,000 pounds come September. If, like me, you had never heard of kiwi berries, be sure visit Kathy at our Downtown Silver Spring FRESHFARM Market in September for a new fall fruit experience!
Next we drove to nearby Biglerville, where Winn and Fredi Schulteis own and operate Quaker Valley Orchards. After being greeted by their son JC and two very excited dogs, we wandered through just a fraction of their 240 acres.
We had heard rumors around market that our unreasonably cold winter and a late frost would shorten the season and possibly raise prices for some fruit. According to Winn, the most challenging part was that while we usually have some warmer days to break the frost, it stayed consistently cold this year. This did not seem to hurt his apples, but cherries, he said, are the most sensitive to cold weather. And while that is sad, he explained that this is an exceptionally good year for plums (whose season is just starting)!
After eating a delicious cobbler made by JC of the freshest fruit, we went on our way to Keswick Creamery at Carrock Farm. There Melanie showed us from start to finish how farmstead cheese is made, starting with their 45 rotationally grazed Jersey cows to ending in my personal favorite, the aging room, where we were surrounded floor to ceiling by cheeses.
I came home from Farm Visit Friday buzzing with new information. I learned what a kiwi berry is; I learned that red and black raspberries cannot be planted next to each other, and I met a cow calf for the first time. But most importantly, through volunteering at FRESHFARM Markets this season I have been able to learn and taste how fresh the meat, cheese, and produce is, and on Friday I understood firsthand why that is. As Melanie from Kewsick summed up for us, “You can make cheese out of any kind of milk. But you just can’t make good cheese out of bad milk.”
Written by CSA Volunteer Nina Waysdorf. Interested in volunteering with FRESHFARM Markets? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.