Monday, September 15, 2014

The Frequently Asked Questions

I get asked a lot of questions about why I started farming, where, how, when, etc.  

You might have the same burning questions so here's a list of the questions I get often and some answers....

What's your name? 

My Answer: My name is Rose, Rose Robson

How old are you? 
So many people think I'm older than I am...slightly depressing. 

My Answer: I am 27.

Do you work on the farm? 
At the farmers' market I get asked quite a bit if I work on the farm. It's not a crazy question since many farmers send hired help to the market while they're home farming.

My Answer: Yes, I own the business.

How did you get into farming? 
It's a really unique time in agriculture. There are so many 1st generation farmers now so people are curious how a young person would make their way into the industry.  

My Answer: I'm a fourth generation farmer. I left the farm and headed down to University of South Carolina for college and took a few jobs else where but farming is somewhat genetic. It will pull you home. I am also an only child and did not want something so special, to end with me.  I never thought I'd return to the farm until my dad passed away while I was in college...then it was the only thing I thought about.   

Why did you leave your job in medical sales to farm? 

My Answer: I was restless. I felt unfulfilled.  Yes, the money was good. I was comfortable but I knew very clearly that was not my calling in life.    

Did you grow this stuff in your garden/back yard?
I get this question very often.  I'm not sure if it's because of my age or what but it always makes me smile. 

My Answer: I farm on 40 acres.  3 acres of which are peaches. 

Do you work when it rains? 

My Answer: Yes! Rain or shine. Frigid cold or sweltering heat. 

How many days a week do you work or do you have to work today?
When I get asked this I am reminded how important it is to educate friends old and new about what it takes to grow the food we eat.

My Answer: I work 7 days a week from April until Thanksgiving.  No matter how tired I am I just think...I'm doing it. I'm doing what I want to do (Hell Yea!). And it keeps me going. Everything is perishable and time sensitive so things have to be done today because tomorrow it might be too late.  

Do you work on the weekends?

My Answer: Yes 

How many hours a day do you work? 
This depends a little bit on the time of year, weather it's peach season or not and how many hours of day light there are.  These hours also include the back work needed to run the buying club and other areas of the business.  

My Answer: 12-18 hours a day

What time do you get up in the morning? 

My Answer: It depends on what day of the week it is. Saturdays I always wake up at 4 AM. It's a big market day so it's important to get an early start. Most days I get up between 5 and 5:30.  I like to get to the farm between 6 and 7 AM. 

What your favorite thing to grow? 
Such a tough question...there are so many things I love! 

My Answer: Top 5 - Peaches, beets, red butterhead lettuce, heirloom anything (tomatoes, melons, etc.), brussels sprouts, flowers, husk cherries...anything else totally out of the box! (I realize that was more than 5 but there's so many cool things to grow!) 

Least favorite thing to grow? 

My Answer: I don't really have a least favorite thing to grow but I do have least favorite things to pick....I hate picking strawberries the most closely followed by okra. 

As I get more questions I'll add to this post.  Stay tuned....

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Is my Watermelon Ready?

golden midget heirloom watermelon

Watermelon selection is a bit of a mystery to most people. 

It's like when you bake a pie and give it as a gift.  You (at least I do) have all of these lingering questions?

Is it good? Is it too watery inside or did I get it right?  What if I just gave someone a horrible gift when all I wanted to do was something nice?

Kind of the same idea with a watermelon....

In the past years I have recieved pictures and been invited into backyard gardens to determine if the melon in question was ready.  I hope I helped those friends and left them feeling empowered and in the know.

So I'll now share that information to you....

1. Is the fun little curly vine that is at the exact spot where the watermelon stem connects to the bigger vine brown?

2. Is the melon slightly yellow on the bottom?

3. When you give it a tap with your pointer finger knuckle does it make a high sound?

If you answered yes to all of the should be ready.

The final test is that the watermelon should slip easily from the vine.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Husk Cherries

I usually set these little gems on the end of my table at the farmers' market to get the conversation going.

What are these adorable, delicate little canary yellow gems wrapped in a Chinese lantern-esk paper?

A husk cherry!  These also go by ground cherry, cape gooseberry and in French (which is my favorite), Amour en Cage, which means "caged love."

They are closely related to a tomatillo (as if you couldn't already guess that) and have their roots in South America.  In other parts of the world like Austraila and New Zealand they are often made into jams or pies.

They have a very unique a tomato but sweeter.

More citrus. More pineapple. More apricot. Kind of....butterscotch.

It's like unwrapping candy.

They grow on a low sprawling plant that produces a ton of little husk cherries. They start out green and then slowly dry as the fruit ripens. They get the name "ground cherry" because you know they're ripe when they fall off the vine. We grew ours on black plastic...I didn't really like the idea of picking up my food and the food of my customers off the ground.  The plastic seems to be working.  

Kitchen inspiration for Husk Cherries

  1. Just unwrap and snack
  2. Jams, the husk cherries contain a high level pectin which makes them a great choice for canning 
  3. Pies and cobblers
  4. Husk Cherry Upside Down Cake (ditch the pineapple and try these guys)
  5. A sweet salsa like peach or blueberries salsa
  6. Sliced and sauteed with shrimp (Thanks Michelle for this one!) The hint of citrus with the husk cherries pairs nicely with shrimp
  7. Make a compote, cook down unwrapped husk cherries with a little water and brown sugar...a little salt too and spread over pork before it goes in the oven 

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