How ya doin'?, 

The Countdown to Summer is on! 

We are within 4 weeks till our Summer Season begins on June 3rd! To celebrate the Countdown, we're sending out a little farming story each week till June finally arrives-- we can't wait to see you at the truck real soon!

We do still have openings for this Summer's share-- don't forget to reserve your spot today!  And please pass this on to friends. Be sure to check out our website for all the good information and to register. 

The quick run-down if you are new to Fresh Fork Market:  We are a weekly grocery subscription to local farms.  We call it a Farm Buying Club. Each week from June through October, our subscribers receive a fresh "grab bag" of local provisions, including fruits and vegetables, meats, cheese, eggs, grains, and more.  Omnivore, Vegetarian, and Vegan dietary plans are available and packages are either $25 per week (small) or $40 per week (large).  You pick the groceries up from one of our refrigerated box trucks at over 20 different area pickup locations.  
4 lbs of Tomatoes Per Plant 
The true babes of Summer. 

A vine-ripened heirloom tomato is the prime reason to eat local: it's a feast for the senses.

A freshly picked tomato bursts with flavor. The smooth skin has beautiful colors-- ranging from the brightest red to the deepest plum, and all imaginable speckles and lines as decoration. The smell of a fresh tomato is almost as delicious as the taste itself. For your ears, the squish and slice as you cut through it, adding it to a salad with some mozzarella and torn basil, is downright musical. 

Tomato growing, however, is another matter-- it's a pretty tough business. How are you growing, where are they going, and what type of tomato to grow? There are thousands of varieties, most of which are hybrids (natural crosses of tomatoes, not genetically modified), and some are heirloom varieties (think pure breed), and they all offer different benefits and drawbacks. 

Where are you going and how do you grow?

Tomatoes are generally split in two categories based on their market: "Shippers/Packers" & "Fresh Market Tomatoes."

Shippers or Packers are tomatoes that usually are selected for their uniform size, color, shape, and firmness.  These tomatoes are ideal for rough handling and long hauling. These are most grocery store varieties. Then there are Fresh Market Tomatoes, which are what local growers raise.  They are generally not uniform in size, shape, or color, and they are more difficult to handle. 

Another consideration when picking what type is where they will be grown. Above you can see tomatoes grown in a hoophouse-- planted tightly and trellised up. If done correctly, these plants can yield up to 40 lbs per plant, but they require significant labor and investment in facility and equipment. You can imagine that starting these heat-loving plants indoors in January requires a lot of energy. Tomatoes love the long hot days of Summer, and thrive outside, but as you might have noticed if you ever started a seedling outside too early, they need to be clear of any late frost danger.

Once it's settled where the farmer will be selling, and how the farmer will grow his or her tomatoes, they can then move on to the specific variety to grow. Here, it's crucial to measure up taste with yield: it's not a great idea to select a really tasty tomato plant with a poor yield, unless you're not interested in making any money.
A Sensitive Little Flower. 

We focus on heirloom varieties. These are the funky green, yellow, red, purple, and brown tomatoes that range in size from 2 lbs per fruit, to little dinky tomatoes.

These tomatoes are often beautiful with amazing colors and beautiful flesh once sliced open, but they often have irregular shapes and cracks. And boy, are they sensitive: sometimes if you just look at them wrong, they break down and start crying (they crack and leak). 

Heirloom tomatoes are a nightmare to pack and ship, and few farmers will touch them because of it.  For us, we work with one grower in Homerville who will take on all he can grow. David grows lots of heirlooms and he is hoping to get about 10 lbs of tomatoes per plant. However, only about 40% of those will be marketed as #1s.  #2 tomatoes - those with some damage, spots, etc - are about 40% of the harvest and they go to sauce production with Pope's Kitchen or will be chopped up and frozen for winter usage.  The remaining 20% are culled out as damaged, overripe, etc and not sellable. 


All staked up and ready to party. 

Now for the exciting math side of the equation. Here is a picture of David's Farm at the very beginning of tomato season.


David can get about 4,000 plants per acre, planted on raised beds with black plastic and stakes, like you see above.  He has about 300 hours of labor into the tomatoes for transplanting, staking, pruning, cultivating weeds, and fertilizing, before he even harvests a tomato. Those 4,000 plants produce about 32,000 lbs of tomatoes that will be sold as #1 or #2s.  He has to pick, sort, and pack all of them. There is a lot of work that goes into these beauties, but it's worth it. And when we all get to bite into that first juicy red tomato of the season, let's send a thank you David's way for making it happen. 


Our Summer Season begins in just 4 weeks! 
Click here to learn more & to sign up. 
Please pass this along to friends & family! 


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Read our 2015 Almanac here and spread it to your friends and family!


We offer dozens of pick up locations all over town. Click below to see where the trucks are headed!