We just got back from a trip to Southwest France to visit Jacky, my wife's ailing 82-year-old grand cousin. She's a very sweet lady who slaps your face when she is happy with you, lives in the tiny village of Buziet in an 1840s farmhouse built by her great-grandfather, and speaks only French at a rate of about 200 kilometers per hour.
The kids loved the fall farm rituals: the green pastures and stone walls, the roosters crowing in the morning, the contented clucking of hens pecking the grass, the bereted Bearn shepherds with their flocks of dusty sheep rolling down from the Pyrenees mountains like giant balls of frayed yarn heading for safer winter pasture, the bats darting out of the dusty, bow-timbered grange, and the clang-clong sound of hollow brass cow bells bumping through the narrow village streets announcing the evening bovine beauty pageant.
Inspired by the bucolic surroundings, the kindness of the people, and the antioxidant-rich liquefied red-grape drink that the French seem to enjoy with every meal except breakfast, I started speaking French-never even took a lesson. One evening as Jacky pushed away from the table I wanted to tell her good night. I cleared my throat to get the French pronunciation right and proceeded to wish her a happy new year. She paused, turned and smiled quizzically. For the rest of the trip she (and my wife's entire extended French family) was culturally sensitive to my traditions as they too wished each other and me good night (bonne nuit) with a smile, a kiss, and a wish for a Happy New Year (bonne annee). Who says the French don't have a sense of humor.
Fall in the Northern Hemisphere is changing the warm and bright summer light into a cooler dusky-ember orange. For those in the fruit world these next few weeks feel a bit like no-mans-land between summer and fall. We'll continue to offer kiwi-berries and passion fruit and pomegranates whenever they are available. Generally however the transition from summer fruit with its abundance of peaches, nectarines, and the like is a tough seasonal reality check. There are still some late-season pluots and grapes but you will start seeing more pears and apples varieties as they come to harvest. Look forward to specialty citrus in November. We make a great effort to post up all of the fruit varieties we have for you on the website so that you can identify what you are eating. Please visit our In the Mix pages - just click on your region.
Enjoy and be fruitful! (And bonne année!) firstname.lastname@example.org
Sebastopol, CA - The good news is the bees are happy at Torrey Olson's Gabriel Farm, and when the bees are happy, we’re all happy. Bee Beat followers might recall that the original hives installed at Torrey's Asian Apple Pear orchard as part of The FruitGuys Farm Steward Project did not survive the winter. This year Torrey re-sited the hives and started them again with some new nucs from BeeKind, a bee husbandry specialty store in Northern California. He was also favored by the appearance of a wild swarm - right above the new hives. With deft and craft, Torrey was able to coax the wild brood into some new digs.
In September, we followed at a respectful distance as Torrey checked on the hives during a FruitGuys excursion. Suited up in safety clothes, just in case a guard bee should confuse Torrey for an intruding bear, Torrey moved calmly as he opened the hives. Hive Number One showed some growth but remained small, whereas the growth in Hive Number Two was much more robust. The bees in the middle frames were in full production, filling cells with pollen and honey. Torrey decided to wait on adding an extra box on top - adding a second story too soon could thin out the colony and endanger its health.
So why do bees swarm? Swarms are sometimes due to a problem such as overcrowding or starvation in the primary hive. About 60 percent of the workers, plus the old queen, defect en masse to find a new home. But it's never spontaneous: being highly organized, bees plan a swarm by getting new queen eggs ready. A swarm of bees is docile, since they still have no home to protect. Spring is peak swarm season, but if you happen upon a swarm anytime of the year, we recommend you call your local beekeeper, not the exterminator. Take it from Torrey, a wild swarm can be a productive lot. At a recent Farm Trails apple-picking event, Doug Vincent of BeeKind brought honey that he'd processed from Gabriel Farm bees and the swooning crowds snatched it up! Nothing is finer than tasting the honey and the fruit from trees you've gotten to know.
Bees’ list of things to do before winter:
* Clean up the hive
* Slow down egg laying
* Raise the winter bees
* Sup on late season Coyote Bush
* Condense stores toward the center of the hive
* Keep some honey for chilly winter mornings
- Heidi Lewis
Take a Hike!
Have you been watching “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” Ken Burns’ latest documentary chronicling the history of our national parks? Has it inspired you to visit beautiful majestic mountains, windswept prairies, and vermillion canyons? If you haven't seen it, it is certain to be repeated or you can catch it on PBS. Whatever your inspiration - the smell of fresh air, a post card from Yosemite, or just a yen - Fall is a great time to get up and out for day hikes.
The documentary lasts 12 hours, long enough for most Americans to hop in a car or board a bus to reach a park, hike around, and be home for the final credits. Most of our major cities have extensive park systems with great walking trails and room to roam. New York's Central Park has 843 acres, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park 1,017, Washington D.C.'s Rock Creek Park 1,754, and Philadelphia's Fairmount and LA's Griffith weigh in at more than 4,000 acres. Suburban areas have extensive “greenway” corridors where old railroad tracks and canals have been rehabilitated into trails. A chain of 1,000 acres known as the Emerald Necklace, links the parks around Boston and Brookline, MA.
After you've chosen your destination, checked trail information, and weather, you don’t need much more than a pair of good shoes and outerwear. Be sure to pack fruit—remember that your body turns fruit into energy quicker than candy or energy bars. The FruitGuys likes to gently remind hikers that when it comes to fruit peels, don’t forget to “pack it in - pack it out.” And, of course, don’t forget to bring water. It is generally unsafe to drink from trail creeks so bring enough water for your body type and weather conditions.
When you get to the trailhead, take a moment to do a few warm-ups. Stretch your calves, thighs, and spine. Loosen your shoulders and neck so you’re ready for bird watching and sky gazing. When you return, do a few cool-down stretches to help remove lactic acid (which causes muscle cramps) and soreness so that afterwards you’ll have only good memories of your invigorating hike. Whenever you seize the opportunity to take a walk in nature, you're certain to come away with something.
“In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.” John Muir, naturalist.
- Heidi Lewis
Heritage Gift Crates Coming Soon
Here at The FruitGuys, when summer turns to fall we know the season doesn't just end, but transitions in ebbs and flows of peak fruit. We talk with our farmers every day to stay current on what's happening in the fields and orchards. We hear about early frosts and cover crops, share recipes, and learn about their new offerings. A farmer's livelihood depends not just on the newly picked, but also on preserves and mixes.
We're thrilled to be able to extend the harvest table of local family farms to you.
By supporting small family farms and kitchen table purveyors, you are also supporting land stewardship and heritage foods. Small-scale organic farmers are the ones tending to the ark of our country's fruit and vegetable diversity by planting heirloom crops. No matter where you live, east, west or central, urban, suburban, or rural, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience," as premier chef and foodie James Beard said. From heirloom fruit to unique family farm products such as jams, preserves, and scone mixes, anyone you choose will love our heritage fruit gift boxes for the holidays.
This year, we're offering two gifts ranging from $39-$79. To get a headstart on your holiday gifts, call 877-FRUIT-ME or email email@example.com for more information.
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
from Sonnet LXXIII: That Time of Year Thou Mayst
by William Shakespeare
- Heidi Lewis
Wildflowers of the Emerald Necklace
Hayride to the Witches House - Linvilla Orchards
Oct 23,24 & 30
New York City Before Europe
New York, NY
Mid-American Trails & Greenways Conference
Oct 26 &27
No-Scare Children's Halloween Activities
Cornbread from the Ground Up - Angelica Organics
Oakland Hike - Lake Merritt to Berkeley
Petaluma Pumpkin Patch Night Maze
Oct 23, 24, 30
International Day of Climate Actions
San Francisco, CA
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