A mild winter and very warm spring caused Mother Nature to alter her schedule for regional farmers.
Two regular farmers' market stalwarts, Dave Garretson of Beechwood Orchards, and Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farm, both indicated that while frosts after blossoming caused some damage to their groves of apple, pear and cherry trees, the loss will be noticeable but not devastating. I spoke with them Sunday at the Philadelphia Farm & Food Fest at the convention center, co-sponsored by Fair Food and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.
Wenk has already harvested a little asparagus for his family's use, but expects to cut a lot more beginning this week. It's conceivable, he said, that it will be all gone by the time the Headhouse Square farmers' market opens May 6. If the season extends by a week or so, he will still have asparagus available then.
Tom Culton, also at the festival, said he does expect to still have asparagus when Headhouse opens.
If you're hankering for local asparagus now -- the supermarkets are full of thin stalks from Mexico -- maybe a trip Saturday to either the Clark Park or Fitler Square year-round markets will be in order.
And unless the weather intervenes, you can expect to see strawberries in early May.
Garretson said he's altering the Philadelphia farmers' markets he'll be attending this season. He's leaving the Tuesday market at South & Passyunk sponsored by Farm to City, but joining the Thursday afternoon Food Trust market at Fairmount and 22nd Street, where he takes over from Orchard Hill Farm of Bloomsburg. Beechwood will continue to sell at University Square on Wednesdays, Rittenhouse Square on Saturdays, and Swarthmore on Saturdays.