DEAR FARMKETEERS: The days are getting shorter, but do not fear! Your to-do list is shrinking even faster.
Yes, intrepid locavores! You have already picked ALL the strawberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, plums, nectarines, apricots, and garlic that we could grow on the whole farm. And a half-orchard of apples. And a barnload of veggies besides. Bravo! Here is all that’s left on your September to-do list…
#1 – Pick a gigunda crop of apples. Gigantic doesn’t cover it. Gigunda is the proper aggie word for a bumper crop. Please come at once to pick your own Jonamac, Early Fuji, Pixie Crunch, Macoun, Empire, Sweet 16 (hello Cherry Twizzler!), Sir Prize, McIntosh, Cortland (doesn’t turn yellow!), Liberty, Spartan, and more. Farmer Steve’s orchard report actually said, “Macoun, Macoun, Macoun, Macoun…” which we might take to mean that there’s an especially copious and delicious crop of Macouns this year. And he wrote MCINTOSH and CORTLAND in all big letters which counts as shouting on the internet. Pick Macs and Corts off the big trees in the Vintage Orchard. Find orange (Mac) and yellow (Cortland) ribbons.
#2 – Discover exotic apples and pears at the stand. You can finish your picking adventure at the roadside farmstand where you’ll find heritage and heirloom fruits that we’ve picked for you. Treasures you won’t find in a grocery store. Apples like Ellison’s Orange, Chestnut Crab, Burgundy, Kerr, and Golden Pippin. Pears like Flemish Beauty, Anjou, Bartlett, and Madame Boutant. Madame’s card says “old French pear,” not “old Fresh pear” – a probable oxymoron in most construals.
#3 – Cut your own sunflowers in the maze. Wander the path, harvest as you go, and put the scissors back where you found them. As it is in life, so it is in the sunflower maze.
#4 – Do a deep-dive into donuts and cider. Get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic cidericiousness by the dozen or half-dozen on Saturday and Sunday 10:30 to 6:00. If you want cinnamon sugar, simply whisper, “A sprinkle of SIN, SUGAR.” Nick the Donut Kid will know what you mean. Wash down the donuts with freshly pressed sweet cider, known around here as “Orchard Ambrosia” – 100% unpasteurized old-timey juice of apples and pears. Freezes great. We’re brewing hot mulled cider, too, now that a nip is in the air.
#5 – Stock up – and spice up – on this recherché commodity: fresh local ginger root. “The most precious substance in the universe is the spice… The spice extends life… expands consciousness… gives one the ability to fold space… that is, travel to any part of the universe without moving.” Of course Sci-Fi fans know that from Dune. But few people know that fresh ginger has been growing right here at home in the Finger Lakes. Sharon and Dean of Tree Gate Farm, our friends around the corner next to Coy Glen, will try to keep us supplied for a second year. Last year Farm Fans hoovered up the rhizomes as fast as they could deliver. It’s great for ginger tea and myriad culinary uses. Sharon explains how they grow it: “The seed comes from Hawaii, arrives in March, and using a greenhouse and a lot of compost, we spend 7 months working to convince it that the Finger Lakes region is almost as wonderful a place to grow as the tropics. Unlike what you find at the grocery store, our uncured ginger is snappy and sweet, roughly the texture of an apple or a slice of water chestnut. And no peeling required! Just be sure to use or freeze within a week; it’s perishable.” Ginger now, turmeric in October!
#6 – Double your spice power with Callie’s radishes. “He who controls the spice controls the universe.” Another science fiction fact that spawns an obvious corollary: YOU must control the spice in your kitchen. Time to mine Planet Radish for new culinary booty. Cal has been harvesting these French breakfast radishes (left) which are tender, white and red, crunchy, with mild spice, the best fresh-eating radishes. Also Sora radishes (right), the classic, reliable, round red radish for all purposes. Ripening soon will be watermelon radishes – earthy, spicy, with green rind and bright pink center, great for roasting, pickling, shredding into salads – and the “five color mix” of yellow, white, burgundy, pink, and red. All these spicy little treats are versatile. Roast them. Make quick “fridge pickles” for a piquant addition to tacos, burritos, salads. Eat them raw to power up your personal spice.
#7 – Cut your own Brussels sprouts. Most people have never seen a stalk of sprouts, let alone cut their own. Famously paired with bacon, but in the spirit of spice, how about cooking your own gingered sprouts?
#8 – Pick the last tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. The nightshade field keeps plugging along. Diligent pickers, who plod along patiently and look below the leaves, can still find fresh tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), and eggplants. These summer vegetables will wrap up soon.
#9 – Bake an apple pie! How about apple ginger pie or ginger apple pie since we have fresh ginger at the stand (first come, first get!)? Thank you to loyal ‘Creeknik Tamarynde Cacciotti for the mouthwatering pic.
#10 – BYOBag. Please bring your own bags for picking and shopping, or get our reusable farm totes at the stand. No more single-use plastic bags at The ‘Creek! The totes come in 2 sizes for only $1.50 and $2.00. They’re great for apple picking, but also for groceries and picnics and “various and sundries.”
#11 – Find us at the Festival. Yes we will be on the Ithaca Commons from Friday through Sunday this week. Follow your nose to our donut stand. Look for our big green hut with spinning signs and fresh apples and sweet cider and mulled cider and Brussels sprouts and donuts and other farm treats.
#12 – Help us support farmland protection! This year Indian Creek donated $1000 to the Finger Lakes Land Trust, our hometown conservation nonprofit, to advance farmland protection efforts in the region. Land Trust Executive Director Andy Zepp (left) came to chat with Farmer Steve at Indian Creek, which is protected by a conservation easement held by the Town of Ithaca and located within the West Hill Wildway – a proposed greenbelt that extends the length of town and includes both natural areas and farms. You can help permanently safeguard prime Finger Lakes farmlands by making a gift to the Land Trust. They have worked tirelessly for 30 years to conserve over 23,000 acres of our most cherished lakeshores, gorges, waterfalls, and open spaces. Thanks to Chris Ray for this photo and the next.
(Oops, blooper.) (Corn → Steve.)
Stay tuned for your October to-do list. We will send it next week. It is even shorter. And oranger.
Love to y’all. Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.