Fresh Talker



Trip to California
Centers on Citrus

I was on a plane this past week to visit the California citrus-growing region near Visalia. It was a great trip and proved there are many things still to learn – even after 35 years in this business!

California has been in a long and severe drought, so it was great to see all the snow in the mountains as we flew in. It was a stark contrast with last year’s lack of snowpack – in fact, it looks like they’ve been getting  their fair share at last, and that is a good thing! It is not going to completely fix the drought situation, but it sure helps.

Of course, snow in the mo

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Plenty of Challenges
in Berries and Citrus

We’ve been spoiled with good weather and an early start to the California strawberry season for the past couple of years. But not this year, which is why we haven’t been able to provide fresh strawberries over the past few weeks.

The few available old-crop strawberries have been fair at best – I’m not sure they even deserve being served no matter how deep the whip cream or other topping you could try to bury them in.  We check every day, and had hoped the new-crop strawberry season would be well under way by now. But we suffered another setback Tuesday, Jan. 5, when yet another

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Merry Christmas!

Well, it’s already here… Merry Christmas! And then it’s Happy New Year! Wow, that was fast. So in the spirt of a happy holiday season, let’s keep this update on the positive side.

We have really been enjoying the Opal apples in the markets over the past few weeks, and we have more on the way. The apple I am most excited about is the Kiku which arrived this past week. This is a variety of Fuji that is specifically grown and harvested with high color and extra-sweet flavor. To top it off, they are also very crisp!

The next new crop we are buzzing about is California citrus

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Happy Holiday Shopping
and Thanks to You All

Thanksgiving is here and I, for one, am thankful for so much. I’m especially thankful for the entire community at Town & Country Markets, with which I have the privilege and good fortune to be connected. The families, fellow workers, associates, growers and shippers who work together all year long to bring such great fresh produce into our markets are a true gift. Most of all I am thankful for all of you, our guests, without whom there would be no point to it all. You and your families are at the core of our greater community. I wish all of you a happy and joyful holiday with friends

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Here come the Apples,
Sprouts, Mushrooms,
Squash and MUCH more

WOW. I just realized we only have seven weeks until Thanksgiving Day. I know we were just talking about the early end to the summer season, but it didn’t truly hit home until the drive to work this morning. Because today it got my attention – how late the sun is rising and how the colors of autumn have taken hold.

Now that we are in the peak of fall, we’re also in the peak of the Northwest apple and pear season. I think we have more variety than ever this year, especially with a few select heirloom varieties we’ve added to the organic section. In apples, the Spitzenburg, Golden

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Buckle Up for Sprouts,
Pumpkins and ‘Shrooms
(Local Corn is so Over)

Variety Pumpkins 2 Sterino Sept 2015A collection of pumpkins and gourds from Sterino Farms during my visit today (Friday, Sept. 18).

Local corn is the latest casualty of our early fall. Sterino Farms, our long-time partner who grows a lot of corn for us

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Autumn Arrives Early
Just Like 2015 Crops

 

Fall has come on fast this year. After such a long, hot, dry summer with nearly every crop coming in two or three weeks earlier than usual, it’s not surprising that autumn arrived with a bang at the tail end of August.

I did a little comparison on where we were with summer fruit and melons last year at this time. It’s clear we were still in a full-summer seasonal mode all the way through the end of September. This year, however, we’ll see many summer items coming to an end by the week of the Sept. 21. Peaches, nectarines and nearly all plums with be off the menu fol

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Drought and Heat Change the Game

The 2015 summer growing season continues to throw out curve balls. The ongoing drought in the western United States and multiple rounds of temperatures hitting the upper 90s are changing the rules of the fresh produce game. And it’s only early August!

Many growers are saying the normal rules just do not apply this year. Most crops are maturing early or failing in some degree ranging from a shortfall to a complete loss. The most recent was when Turlock Fruit Co., our California melon grower,  called last week and asked us to cancel our annual promotion of variety melons – their tr

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NW Growing Season
Shifts Gears This Week

The Northwest growing season is well under way – some things are wrapping it up for the year, while some others are just getting started.

The berry season is all but done. We are at the tail end of Northwest blueberry season, although blackberries should continue for a couple more weeks. Washington apples are right around the corner as are Northwest pears – is it really that time already?

Our yellow and white flesh peaches and nectarines are now all Northwest grown and some of the best-eating varieties of the year are becoming available. This week, my favorite peach variety, “

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Northwest Farmers
Feeling (Too Much) Heat

I visited Sterino Farms’ raspberry field in the Puyallup Valley on the last Friday of June and the news isn’t good. Jake Sterino tells me, in fact, that this year is a bust with a crop at about 25 percent of normal. He suspects an early freeze last November is to blame, although he’s not absolutely certain.

We are using Hayton Farms in Skagit Valley and another grower to try to fill in our raspberry needs, but those farms also are experiencing crops on the short side. In normal years, the peak of Northwest red raspberry season would fall around July 10. But I think we’ll be co

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