Update from Sweetaire Farm

I’m pasting below the email from my Sweetaire Farmers, Art and Cathy. This is one of the delights of befriending a farmer–learning how your fruit is created, how it is harvested, and more importantly, how the farmers do it all!



2:15 PM (6 minutes ago)

Greetings from SweetAire Farm,

In addition to the berries that we have been bringing, we will have some apricots to bring this week. As with all of our tree fruits, these have not had any dangerous chemicals sprayed on them. These apricots are just the start of the season.

We will have more blueberries and raspberries this week than last, so there will be enough for all. Normally by now we would have our earliest peaches, but, for some reason, all the earliest peaches dropped off the trees. So, perhaps next week will start our peach season. The early peaches are a little tricky because they tend to be very susceptible to brown rot, and it is difficult to get them to market. They ripen very fast and then have only a very short shelf life.

How fresh is the fruit offered by SweetAire Farm? Some of the berries, notably the strawberries, are picked no earlier than the Thursday or Friday before the Saturday market. Red raspberries are usually picked on Friday afternoon, but, depending on the weather, on Friday morning. Black raspberries can be picked as early as Wednesday, and blueberries can be picked from Monday on. Currants and gooseberries will keep for several weeks if refrigerated. Grapes may be able to be picked for up to three weeks before they are sold, but will not keep much beyond that. Tree fruits, like apricots, can be held in refrigeration for several weeks. Apples and pears will keep for several months. Peaches may sometimes be picked a couple of weeks before selling, but usually are picked within the week. Persimmons and quinces may be a couple of weeks old. We try to pick as close to the market day as possible to give you the freshest possible product.

Fridays on SweetAire farm used to be the only fruit-picking day. Not anymore. Now, we must pick at least on Thursday and Friday, and sometimes before that in order to bring as much fruit as you need on Saturday. With just the two of us, picking speed is limited, so we get what we can in the time available.

We took a few days (Sunday to Wednesday) to visit San Antonio and attend a meeting there. We had a great time, but could only stay away from home for a couple of days before we were anxious to return. The Riverwalk in San Antonio is like Neverland, so different from the rest of the city only one story higher. But, nice as it was, we had to make it back to pick fruit for Saturday.

When we got back, Cathy noticed that the lamb that we had with the parasite, and which couldn’t stand on its hind legs, was standing up. So, it is recovering.

And now news from the world of science: Exposure to antibiotics has been linked to the severity of allergic asthma (S.L. Russell et al, Early Life Antibiotic-Driven Changes in Microbiota Enhance Susceptibility to Allergic Asthma, EMBO Reports, vol 13, pp 440-447, March 2012). We have previously noted that microbial diseases of fruit trees, especially bacterial spot of peaches and fire blight in apples, are treated with an antibiotic called Mycoshield containing oxytetracyclene and which is sprayed on the trees when conditions are favorable for the spread of these diseases (which is almost every spring). Many, if not all, commercial orchards use Mycoshied. We do not use Mycoshield, and are not in favor of using any antibiotic on our fruit trees. Curiously enough, Mycoshield is also approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for use in organic tree fruit production. We think this is a mistake, and is another reason why we do not apply for
organic certification. The study given above offers experimental proof that children exposed to more antibiotics are more likely to develop allergic asthma.

If a fruit is labeled “Pesticide Free”, is that the same as “No Chemicals”? The answer is “no”. The reason is this: when citing the word pesticides, the writer is often referring to insecticides and fungicides. Some fruits can be grown adequately without these two pesticides, and this is good for you. But often not included in the term “pesticides” are herbicides and fertilizers. Both of these can contain synthetic or unnatural chemicals. Our fruit labeled “No Chemicals” refers to the fact we have not used synthetic insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, or fertilizers on the fruit.

Stay well, and we hope to see you Saturday.

The folks at SweetAire Farm”

Cathy’s email is the first line if you would like to subscribe. I can attest that their black raspberries (my personal favorite), blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb, and well… everything else are just fantastic. Make sure you heed their warnings on how to take care of your fruit. ALSO, very important, help your farmers out and save their containers. If they can reuse them, it will save them mucho mula.

Happy Farmer’s Market-ing! :)

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