July 25, 2016

Secrets of the Orchards


My mother planted a mix of fruit trees in an orchard 15 years ago to meet the needs of the farmers market stand and Farm Fresh To You. It is a mix of many different peaches, mandarin oranges, plums, apples and pears. I have lost the record that shows what varieties she actually planted, so the subtleties of the orchard are a bit of a mystery to me.

I love this orchard because of the secrets hidden among the rows. A single donut peach tree (the fruit are flat and round like a donut) yields very sweet and delicious peaches every July if you can find it hiding in a row between two big blocks of mandarins and cling peaches. I don’t know why exactly she planted it, but I thank her in my mind every time I eat one. There are a dozen persimmon trees growing along the east edge of the orchard that are somewhat forgotten until the bright orange orbs catch your eye in September. Two pomegranate trees on the north side are special because we here on the farm wait until the skin cracks open, announcing that the seeds are at the peak of sweetness.

Last week, I was looking to see which rows of peaches are Cling and which are Freestone when I came face to face with a dove. She was hoping I wouldn’t notice her sitting on her nest, but I did. She was only five feet away in a tree, and we actually looked at each other for a moment before she made a move and noisily flew off. In her nest, I found two baby birds - another secret of the orchard.