Wolff’s Apple House: Always in Season
“Always in Season” is our motto around here. We get as much locally grown produce as we can, but did you know that this includes the cold, “out-of-season” months as well? Our close relationships with local farmers allow us to procure the best of what they grow in October, November, December– even thoughout the winter and into spring!
What Grows in the Winter?
Thanks to a combination of cold-weather varieties and season-extension techniques like greenhouses, high tunnels, and row cover out in the fields, farmer Isaac Stoltzfus in Nottingham, PA grows Brussels sprouts, kale, radishes, turnips, carrots, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and more– well into the winter! Farmer Rebecca King in Quarryville, PA provides us with a wide array of fresh herbs, baby turnips, salad mixes, and hardy greens like kale, collards, and Swiss chard.
In addition, these farmers and others in their area are planting even now in their greenhouses for winter. Thus, we’ll be able to provide crops like carrots, baby spinach, and tender kale all through the winter months. Wolff’s manager Will Maher explains: “Our farmers have to choose carefully what they’ll put in their greenhouses for winter. Space is at a premium, so we’re more likely to see root crops like carrots, that take up less space, or baby spinach instead of full-grown leaves.” Large cool weather crops like broccoli or cauliflower can be grown all winter in a greenhouse, but that is not financially sustainable for our farmers. All the more reason to savor the awesome broccoli, cabbage, and color cauliflower we sell in October and November, while they’re in their peak season!
More Local Connections
Tim Gehman and his family in Telford, PA provide us with year-round hydroponically-grown lettuces, basil, and fresh pea shoots. Their tender heads of buttercrunch cannot be beat! Recently we’ve stopped offering non-local red and green lettuces, in favor of Tim’s leaf lettuces– the quality is that much better and much more reliable.
Of course, through the fall and before we get a very hard frost, you’ll find local red and green leaf from the fields of farmers like Steve Rosazza in Avondale, PA. It’s nice to have so many local options for a crop like lettuce… which decidedly does NOT benefit from a trip across the country!
You know what else doesn’t have to drive across the country to get to us? Mushrooms! We’re mere miles away from Kennett Square, the “mushroom capital of the world,” and we get fresh mushrooms two to three times a week from mushroom farmer David Cardile. We feel very lucky to have this year-round treasure in such close proximity.
Storage… the Old-Fashioned Season Extender
Much of the produce we sell during the winter comes from storage. Not many of us have root cellars anymore, but our farmers sure do! Winter Squash, Onions, Garlic, Carrots, and Yams are all harvested during the growing season, then kept fresh in storage for weeks, sometimes months! And here at Wolff’s, you have the added bonus of really interesting storage crops like Kabocha or Red Kuri winter squash– varieties that you probably won’t find elsewhere, but that are among the best!
Of course, our biggest “storage” crop would be… APPLES! Ed Weaver, our primary apple grower, uses a technique called “controlled atmosphere” storage on his orchard in Morgantown, PA. We offer his apples all through the winter, and the quality remains great thanks to this sophisticated technology. In fact, some years local apples are available nearly up until the following year’s early apples are picked!
And thanks to our direct relationship with Florida citrus groves, we can offer you fresh-picked citrus like grapefruit and navel oranges! It’s picked, put on a truck, and sent right to us. That’s just about the freshest you can get!
Ashley Wolff’s FAVORITE Produce Season
Ask Ashley about her favorite time of year for fresh produce? “It’s Fall- hands down!” she says. “I just love all the root vegetables and winter squash and greens– all the bright colors, and how the carrots and greens are so much sweeter in the cold months!” (It’s true– after a frost, certain crops’ starches start to turn to sugar to help them guard against frost damage.) Ashley loves to make a fall vegetable stew around this time. She says the recipe is not written down, but it’s simple, delicious, and uses whatever fall veggies (like squash, cauliflower, carrots, or potatoes) we have on hand. Next time you catch her in the store, be sure to ask her and she’ll share her fall cooking secrets!