I wanted to update you on a few things. First of all, a big thank you to everyone who participated in our “additional produce that you’d like to see” survey from the last newsletter. We had almost 400 respondents, so it was really awesome to see all the results! The vast majority of you want us to bring in some additional things as long as we let you know where they’re coming from.
On that note, over this past weekend, we started working with Drift Hills Farm over in Jeromesville. They’re now selling some of our apples and things around the Wooster area, and we’re selling some of their vegetables up here. We’re currently carrying their organically farmed leaf lettuce, radishes, green onions and wild foraged ramps. I’ve added them to our online curbside/delivery store here: https://rittmanorchards.com/product-category/fruits-and-vegetables/ . I’m planning to continue working with them and likely some other places as the season progresses.
Next up, I wanted to talk weather and a crop update. We got some definite damage from the temperatures this past weekend. We cut all the asparagus that was even marginally tall enough to harvest on Friday, in anticipation of the cold night. It was good that we did because it got cold enough to hurt all the shoots that were left. Since it hasn’t really warmed up that much since then (and we have one more cold night tonight), we’re going to be out of asparagus for probably a couple of days. I’m anticipating having it again by Friday. If that’s the case, I’ll get it back up online for ordering by Thursday. But I need to take it a day at a time and see how it does. The warm temperatures coming later this week (hopefully for good) will start to speed its production along.
Those temperatures also hit most of our other fruit crops as well. There is definite damage to some of our cherry varieties, Japanese plums, Asian pears, and spots of damage here and there in most other things. We got all of the early to mid season strawberries covered before Friday night, so I’m hopeful that we’ll only have minimal damage when we take the covers off tomorrow. As for the trees, it’s hard to fully evaluate at this point since I have to look at each blossom individually. I think it’s safe to say we’ll have a lighter than normal crop on a lot of things this year. The blows just keep coming from 2020.
Finally, I wanted to update you as far as our shopping policies go. For at least the near future, we are continuing our curbside and local delivery ONLY. I know that a lot of stores are opening up for customers this week. At this point, we haven’t set a date yet for when we’ll start having customers back into our store.
I’m always going to err on the side of caution to protect my employees, my customers and my own family. When we do open back up, we most likely will be requiring masks to be worn by customers. I know that this will be an unpopular rule with some people. I have mulled (more accurately, “agonized”) over what policies to set into place when we open back up. The bottom line is that when we’re open during our busy season, we each come into contact with hundreds of people a day. We’re wearing masks to protect you from us, so we’ll be asking you to wear masks to protect us from you.
One of the other things I’m trying to figure out is how to manage strawberry season. Unfortunately, we are cancelling the Strawberry Jamboree for this year. There is just no way we can hold it while maintaining safe distancing between people and managing the crowd. And at this point in time at least, live music and entertainment isn’t even allowed, so that wouldn’t make for much of a Jamboree anyway.
Also, pick-your-own is going to look a lot different. We will be staffing the u-pick fields at all times, and will most likely have to limit the hours we’re offering u-pick as a result. And I’ve been thinking over the idea of taking appointments for picking. That’s currently the best way I can see us keeping pickers safely spaced apart in the fields.
We definitely will be keeping our curbside ordering available throughout the season. And most likely the local delivery as well. Both have been going well. And it gives you a couple of very low risk ways of shopping with us. We’re continuing to add new items to the online store daily (I’ve even recruited Amanda to help me). Eventually we’ll have just about the whole store online. And I’m constantly trying to tweak the site and make it easier to use. Overall, the feedback has been very positive that it’s really convenient, but if you ever have any issues with it, please let me know. Here’s the link if you haven’t visited it yet: https://rittmanorchards.com/shop/ .
Ok, that’s it for this time. I have to head back out to the orchard. We’re trying to get plants in before the rain later this week, and we’re still trying to finish up the last of the pruning. As always, thanks for your patronage and your interest in our farm. Stay safe.