BELOVED FARMKETEERS: Aloha from Strawberristan! Where daiquiris flow like smoothies at a Malibu day spa the morning after Oscar night. Where they flow, indeed, like Ithaca rain on opening weekend of farm season.
Which is now. Yes, the farm is open and you can pick your own strawberries. Yesterday was a strawberry social sneak with early birds plucking the first juicy berries in a steady rain. Truth be told there were fruit fanatics who showed up on Wednesday, 10 minutes after the Facebook post went live, even though the post said we’re opening Thursday. These were snappy digital natives, no doubt, who reminded us with their actions and not their Snapchats that overachievement trumps reading comprehension 10 times out of 9. To the rulebreakers go the spoils! But you have to work for it: Strawberries are u-pick only; we won’t have any stocked at the stand just yet.
Today and this weekend, the soft launch of berry season continues. There will be strawberries to pick most days for the next couple weeks, but you really won’t know how many til you get here. That’s just how it works. Depends on sunny days and how many pickers beat you to the patch. Determined pickers will look under the leaves and at the far end of the rows where the crowds don’t go. For this first weekend, since the crop is just getting started, there probably won’t be enough ripe berries for bulk pickers to gobble up buckets and buckets, so the bulk discounts won’t start til probably next week. That will help leave berries for lots of different people who are eager to start farm season. Please come pick any day, and you can go to the playground if you get bored or can’t find the exact number of berries you had convinced yourself you needed.
Top crop for many of you is donuts. You can get them every Saturday and Sunday 11:00 to 5:00. The Mark 2 Donut Robot will be churning out fresh fried rings of fructotic splendor – sprinkled with cinnamon sugar if you must.
Scapes and slushees are here. Wash down your donuts with tart cherry slushees and then redeem yourself with fresh picked garlic scapes – these tender shoots will lift your spirits when sizzled in a pan and drizzled with balsamic.
What else is ready to pick? For now just strawberries. But henceforth we’ll be open 7 days a week – that means every day for you AP math whizzes – til Novemberish. That also means a parade of bountiful new crops, Goddess willing The ‘Creek don’t rise. Starts with strawberries then garlic then raspberries and peaches and plums and tomatoes and peppers and pears and apples and eggplant and pumpkins and sprouts and all that. But do come soon, for “Mox nox in rem” – let’s get on with things, the night is coming. Summer is short; winter WILL come. Just saying. Now starts the harvest.
Among all these firsts – strawberries and donuts – we also have a last: Our farewell to Professor Dave.
This spring our dear friend passed away. Many of you know Dave from his days at the farm stand, where he chose to spend so much of his time among friends, cracking jokes and helping with the daily circus of agribusiness. But most of you probably did not know that Our Dave was a renowned classicist, author of books on Latin prose and poetry, an award-winning teacher of a perennially packed course on Greek mythology.
We would feel honored if you took a moment to read Dave’s obituary in the Cornell Chronicle which begins, “Classics scholar David Mankin, beloved by Cornell students for his inspiring and idiosyncratic teaching style, compassionate mentorship and the signature black sunglasses he wore to class…” Well, that’s our Dave – truly an original and a genuine ‘Creeknik forever.
The story makes a weighty point about Dave’s influence on the humanities: “Dave Mankin’s knowledge of Latin authors and scholarship was superb, and he was strongly committed to undergraduate teaching; students took his classes in droves, and recommended them to their friends,” said Hunter R. Rawlings III, Cornell president emeritus and professor emeritus of classics. “In this era of declining enrollments in humanities courses, Dave Mankin countered the trend with remarkable success.”
In the citation for a Distinguished Teaching Award, students admired his, “vast knowledge and erudition, his humor and easy-going manner, and his concern for students’ problems.”
Each of us at the farm has her own stories about Dave, stories of humor and generosity. Farmer Steve wanted you to know that we will be having a small memorial this Sunday; if any of you knew Dave and wanted to attend, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Thanks for all the laughs, Dave.
The Fresh Crop Alert system works pretty good: If you get these weekly emails, you’ll stay abreast of the crops, more or less. But there will be many moments throughout the season when we need to push out a message fast — like, “Whoa, peaches need picking TODAAYYYY!” – but we don’t want to bother you with 3 or 4 emails a week. Social media is the channel for that kind of reportage, so it would be a good idea to follow our Facebook and Instagram feeds to surf the continual ebbing and flowing of croppage.
Love to y’all. Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.