Fruit & News of the Week: July 3rd, 2017

This Week’s Fruit:

Suncrest Peaches
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
A Slow Food Ark heritage variety, the Suncrest has all the old-fashioned taste of days gone by. Its a truly memorable peach whose firm but juicy flesh provides a real eat-over-the-sink experience. Gently tapered, the Suncrest has hardly any blush to speak of on its rich yellow skin. A more fragile variety, the Suncrest bruises easily when picked, but as many of our farm- ers market customers know, a picking bruise means the fruit is extra delicious.

Ruby Grande Nectarines
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
The Ruby Diamond is our best early-season nectarine in Farmer Al’s opinion. It’s a brilliantly crimson free- stone with a very good eating quality. Juicy and fire it has the perfect blend of tangy and sweet that
nectarine fans love.

Dapple Dandy Pluots
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
Playfully called the “dinosaur egg” pluot, the Dapple Dandy has marbled pink and green skin over delicate white flesh threaded with rose. Kids especially love this pluot for its distinctive coloration and the lack of tartness in the skin.

Santa Rosa Plums
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
Famed California horticulturist Luther Burbank bred this plum in his Santa Rosa plant research center. Red-skinned with a purple bloom, its amber flesh gets flushed with red. It’s plump perfection with tender flesh that’s extremely sweet and juicy. A bit of tart- ness in the skin balances out the sweetness.

…all varieties are subject to change...

A Note from Rachel

Read the first in Rachel’s series on our visit to TomKat Ranch here.

Dear CSA Members,

In last week’s note, I introduced you to TomKat Ranch. Because we learned so much about birds on our tour there, I thought that I would share a fascinating story with you! Since 2012, Point Blue Conservation Science has been bird banding alongHonsinger Creek at TomKat Ranch each early summer.

Starting at sunrise, the Point Blue biologists begin to collect birds from strategically placed mist nets along the creek. Before releasing each bird, they identify species, age, sex and additional biometric measurements like wing length and weight. According to on-site ecologist, Mel Preston, “2 of the most common species *we catch are Wilson’s Warblers and Swainson’s Thrushes. Both are neotropical migrants, meaning they make international journeys of over 1000 miles twice a year. Young Wilson’s Warblers and Swainson’s Thrushes born at Honsinger Creek in the summer must learn to fly, put on a layer of fat and migrate to Central America within a few months of birth! If they are able to make that difficult trek, including evading predators, finding food, surviving storms, then they must continue to survive winter on their wintering grounds, which may be affected by habitat loss (ex: if a new resort is built in Cancun that takes out the habitat they rely on). If the birds survive all that, then they must do the journey all over again in the spring to make it back to Honsinger Creek, where they will attempt to breed and begin their first family. When they arrive at Honsinger after their long journey, they begin the reproductive cycle: establish and defend territories, find mates, build nests, lay eggs, feed and protect nestlings, and hopefully fledge’ (leave the nest). Us ‘banders’ who work the banding station are lucky enough to get up close and personal glimpses of this entire reproductive cycle as it unfolds.”

Since learning about birds’ life cycles and perilous migrations, I have been increasingly curious about bird activity at Frog Hollow. Earlier this week, I surveyed the owl boxes we have built in our orchards. I noticed lots of pellets below them, indicating that they must be frequented. And each afternoon during peak heat when I drive through the orchard with Farmer Al, we spot the youngest member of the family of red-tailed hawks perched in our orchard… I wonder what sorts of journeys our local birds endure each year.

(To be continued next week…)

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