As sad as it is to see the passing of summer - and oh, what a summer it's been!, autumn is one of our favourite times on the farm.
After the buzz of pick your own, when the fields have been busy with people popping strawberries, raspberries, blackberries , tayberries and currants into their baskets, September and October are a time when we literally reap the fruits of our labour and harvest the crops that have been ripening in the long, summer sun.
We've more pumpkin and squash than ever before, not just in volume, but varieties, too. Starting in early September, with gem and onion squash, and appearing at various stages throughout the autumn weeks depending on ripening, you'll see a whole host of colours, from orange, green and blue) and pumpkin sizes (handful to armful ) both inside the shop and on the trailer display outside it. Turks Turban, Crown prince, Sunspot, Standard, Racer, Mars, Atlantic Giant and an really unusual one called 'Snowman' (no prizes for guessing the colour of that one). Gone are the days when pumpkins were just for Halloween carving; in the last few years, their popularity as a hearty, autumn dish, roasted, stuffed, mashed, souped, has soared.
September also heralds the start of apple season. Why anyone would prefer to buy supermarket apples from New Zealand is beyond us. It's not just the food miles that are important - the nearer they are to point of sale, the better they'll be, but why wouldn't you support local, Suffolk growers? English apples are, like asparagus, what we do best. Crisp, delicious and coming in as many varieties as you can imagine, whether you prefer eaters or cookers, we've something to tempt. This year, we've six early varieties, many of which can keep for a couple of months providing they're well stored. Elstar, James Grieve, Worcester Pearmain, Laxton's Fortune, Charles Ross and Early Windsor, all are grown just a few miles from the farm in Mid Suffolk. As the months progress, we'll have plenty more varieties to choose from, too.
You'll also notice as you enter the farm that the maize is growing by the second. Although we're already stocking home-grown sweetcorn cobs in the shop, the human-height maize you see will be one of attractions during our annual Pumpkin Patch event, held during October half term from Tuesday 28th October - Saturday 1st November. It's going to be our first Maize Maze, but depending on how popular it is, may well become an Alder Carr Farm autumn tradition.
So, as we say 'sayonara' to Summer and 'aloha' to Autumn, thanks to everyone who made Pick Your Own a huge success - your support, then and now, is always appreciated.