Over Labor Day weekend Mitch Berliner and I (Debbie) had the pleasure of visiting Twin Springs Fruit Farm. As you know, they are one of the largest fruit and vegetable vendors at our markets. Started in 1979, the farm is located in Ortanna, Pennsylvania, and lays amid a beautiful stretch of rolling hills near Gettysburg.
Jesse, whose father was one of the founders of the farm, gave us a comprehensive tour of the entire operation. We walked among the blackberry bushes, whose vines still had fruit on them. It goes without saying that we popped a handful of these little berries into our mouths, delighting in their warm deep flavor. We breathed in the delicious scent of the green and yellow apples and looked at young new apple trees which are being trained to grow in a manner similar to grape vines. This innovative apple training system will allow the trees to bear fruit more efficiently.
We walked in the fields brimming with brussels sprouts and kale plants and got a close up of the fabulous Kaleidoscope green that showed up at the market last year. These large plants are made up of bunches of flowers that look like little heads of lettuce. The plant itself is an interesting cross between kale and brussels sprouts. They grow on long stalks and their leaf colors range from various shades of green to deep purple. Kaleidoscopes are easy to cook and delicious to eat. Just drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, and roast at about 375 for 10-15 minutes. They crisp up and make healthy, tasty treats.
We saw the many beehives that are located throughout the farm, with promises of jars of the rich golden honey that Jesse has each week at the market. And we saw the last batches of peaches and melons that will be slowly winding down at the market.
But don’t lament the passing of this glorious summer that has given us a wonderful array of fruits and vegetables, because this winter you are in for a real treat from Twin Springs! We spent a good amount of time touring the huge greenhouses that make up a large part of the farm. Inside these greenhouses are complex computerized systems monitoring the water, nutrients and temperatures. We saw tall plants growing toward the light that will bear tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants and beans. Neat rows of smaller plants shimmered with light and were filled with lettuce, greens and arugula. The best part? These plants are growing now for the winter market. That’s right – you will be able to buy these items all winter long!
The highlight of our tour was learning how Twin Springs is using a Biomass Burner, a wood chip boiler to heat their greenhouses. By burning wood chips instead of fossil fuels, Twin Springs will help to eliminate the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere that is equivalent to taking 155 midsize cars off the highway in one year! These systems also use heated water that is then used to heat the ground in the greenhouses. What does this mean overall? Twin Springs will reduce their fuel costs, help our environment and reuse natural materials. Now that’s what we call smart and sustainable!
So the next time you are at the market, stop by Twin Springs and while you marvel at the colorful fruits and vegetables before you, think about how hard farmers work to make this world a better place for all of us. And if you need any inspiration of what to make with Twin Springs’ fabulous produce, try this Greek Tomato Sauce recipe.
For more pictures from our visit to Twin Springs Fruit Farm, click here.