Birdsong Orchards Is Now Powered By The Sun

Birdsong Orchards Is Now Powered By The Sun

Hi Farm Friends,

It’s been a while since I sent out a newsletter. I was literally drowning in apples there for a while, as well as pears and figs. I did all the harvesting myself this season, for it is one of my favorite tasks, but perhaps I will be a little less ambitious next year and get some help. Turns out, picking and packing and lugging and carrying thousands of pounds of fruit is hard work! But now the season is winding down, all the pomme fruit have harvested, and only the persimmons remain. 

All Thanks To That Big Beautiful Ball of Fusion in the Sky!

As of Thursday, our brand new solar system is turned on! We have wanted to do this for a long while, and I am so thrilled  finally see it happen. One of our biggest expenses and uses of power is our electric well pump which pulls water from hundreds of feet underground and pushes it uphill to our trees. Not surprisingly, that takes a lot of electricity, because as anyone who has lugged 5 gallon buckets of water around knows, water is heavy. We have wanted to go solar for along time, but it takes some money and planning, so finally, FINALLY, we can say Birdsong Orchards is solar powered, and I am thrilled.

As many of you know, before I switched to farming, I was a software designer. The projects I worked on involved building software to design and monitor solar panel systems. So I am beyond excited to be able to log into a web page and see power being produced. Just look at this beautiful chart of power production from our roof!

Solar power dashboard

Persimmon Varieties and Hoshigaki Workshops

It’s persimmon season once again and we have a beautiful crop this year of one of my favorite fruits. We are holding Hoshigaki workshops on November 23rd, and tickets are still available. As it translates, “Hoshi” means ‘dried and “gaki” means persimmon. This ancient Japanese technique for preserving persimmons begins with picking & peeling fresh Hachiya persimmons & then hanging them by string in a sunny, airy spot to dry. For the first week of their transformation, they’re left alone. Once they form a skin, they are treated to frequent gentle massages which over time produces an interior jam like consistency.

Those massages develop the structure of the fruit and drive off moisture while redistributing sugars to the exterior. The flesh becomes tender and chewy, as supple as any gummy candy with a deep, caramelized sweetness that lingers on your tongue. You know the persimmons are nearly ready when the fructose in the fruit forms a concentrated white dusting on the surface.
Hoshigaki workshop
For those that are interested in growing persimmons, check out the article I wrote for the California Rare Fruit Growers here and also the companion piece I wrote on the eating of persimmons.

Apples for Sale!

It’s soon time to clear out our cold storage and shut it down for the winter, so all our apples are now on sale at $2 a pound for ten pounds or more. Varieties remaining include Golden Russet, Orleans Reinette, Cinnamon Spice, Arkansas Black, Roxbury Russet, Jonagold, Rubinette, Newtown Pippin, Wickson and probably more I am forgetting. Email or msg me to set up a time to come by!

Organic Certification Update

In my last newsletter, I asked all of you whether I should continue with organic certification for the farm. Thank you to everyone who wrote back or talked with me about it afterwards. So many of our farm friends said, "Nadine we trust you, and we trust how you farm. A government certification means nothing to us.” 

Thank you friends for the vote of confidence. It means a lot to me.

For this year at least, I have decided to continue with certification, and in fact, had my annual inspection yesterday which went smoothly. For although my friends trust and believe in my farming practices, I do sell to strangers, who have no reason to trust me in our world full of tricksters. I may change my mind again, but for 2020, we will be certified.

UPDATE for 2021: We have dropped organic certification. So many thanks to all of our supporters, it's a huge relief and let's return a lot of time to actual farming.