By Carolyn Twesten, Weaver Street Market Produce Merchandiser
Summer is here and with it comes all of our favorite local fruits! Peaches, blueberries, and blackberries! Melons and muscadines oh my! This time of year it’s easy to get your vitamins in delicious, colorful little packages.
Peaches arrived in mid-May from South Carolina’s Titan Farms, but we are now transitioning to North Carolina-grown fruit from Pee Dee Orchard in the Sandhills. This is the first year in several that Sandhills peach orchards did not suffer losses from late freezes so we will have plenty of supply. The growers’ theory is that after several years of not producing fruit, the trees are bearing extra-gorgeous and tasty fruit this year! In mid-June we will start receiving peaches from Deal Orchard, whose peaches we carried all last summer and loved.
The very first blueberries of the season arrived from Lewis Nursery in Rocky Point, NC with the “American Blueberries” label. Organic blueberries are coming from Southern Belle Organics in Whiteville, NC. Located about 140 miles southeast of the Triangle, Lewis Nursery and Southern Belle’s blueberries come in just a tad earlier than berries a little closer to home. In a few weeks we will transition to berries grown by Vollmer Farm in Bunn, NC. In 2017 many North Carolina blueberry growers suffered big crop losses due to late freezes. We are hopeful for an abundant harvest this year!
Melons and blackberries are both coming to us from Farmer Foodshare, one of our newer distribution partners. They are a unique organization that attacks food system issues from both sides—from distributing excess produce to families in need to wholesaling produce from small local farms around the state. They work with many different farms from the mountains to the coast. The melons will be coming from Lee’s Produce in Johnston County, NC, just in time for the 4th of July we hope!
Muscadine grapes are a few months off, really a harbinger of fall more than a celebration of summer. But these nutrient-packed gems are an underdog as far as I’m concerned and need a little bit more time in the spotlight. Muscadines are a southern specialty and a locally grown superfruit! The antioxidant value of muscadines surpasses even blueberries and pomegranate! Much of the nutritional value is in the skin and seeds though, which many people spit out. Try this instead: freeze the muscadines whole and add to your morning smoothie to get the full nutritional benefits!
Before you know it fall will be here and we will be enjoying our fresh local apples from Deal Orchard. But for now let’s enjoy all that summer has to offer. Let’s eat!