Citrus Season Update

We’re excited to announce our lineup of winter citrus!

Satsumas have been such a big hit with our customers that we are able to offer them again this December! We know many of our customers have been looking forward to Navel oranges, but unfortunately, we will not be offering Navel oranges this season.

Additionally, we will be offering Ruby Red grapefruit starting in December through February as availability allows. Our famous Honeybells can be preordered and will be delivered in January, while Temple oranges are scheduled for February.

If you would like to place an order for available fruit, go to our shop page now!

  • Ruby Red Grapefruit There’s nothing like an Indian River grown Florida grapefruit! A true, mouth-watering piece of fruit. This is one of the healthiest fruits around, and absolutely delicious!

  • Honeybells A variety that needs no introduction. Ever tried one? If not, you can learn more about Honeybells here. Honeybells are only harvested in January, and they’ll be gone before you know it!

  • Temple Oranges This amazing cross between tangerines and oranges is regarded by many citrus connoisseurs to be the most flavorful variety of the season. They are harvested in February, and will be available to order in late January.

We’re looking forward to a winter full of delicious citrus. If you have questions regarding our citrus season, please see our previous blog post or email us at info@tree-ripe.com!





Citrus Season 2018/2019

It’s the season for citrus!

For almost 30 years, we’ve brought our sweet Florida citrus to you, delivering truckload after truckload throughout the Midwest. In recent years, we’ve been able to add home delivery, sharing our citrus with many outside our home territory. But that’s not all that has changed.

In Florida, we’ve had many challenges in the citrus industry, including several hurricanes in recent memory. (For more information regarding the state of Florida citrus, see below). Yet, despite these challenges, we’re still seeing some fantastic fruit being grown, albeit in smaller quantities. This citrus season will be a little different than past years because of reduced supply.

As you might have noticed, we have expanded our fruit selection to meet the rising demand for fresh, quality fruit in areas where they’re hard to come by. Additionally, we’ve found many seasonal varieties that are unique yet burst with flavor and meet our high standards. Our citrus season is no different! While we will be offering familiar favorites like Honeybells and Ruby Red grapefruit once again, our lineup of citrus will vary slightly compared to past years. Stay up to date on our website and Facebook page where we post all the latest info!

Now to kick off the citrus season we are happy to introduce southern grown satsuma oranges!

Satsumas

Simply put, satsumas are a mandarin orange. Grown on the Florida - Georgia line, satsumas have been rapidly growing in popularity. This is because they are the perfect citrus variety; sweet, zesty, and easy to peel and eat! These seedless fruits beat the competition in juiciness and balanced flavor. They pack nicely in school lunches, are beautiful in gift baskets or gifts on their own, and add fantastic flavor to winter meals and desserts.

Our wonderful growers at Florida Georgia Citrus are just as excited as we are to share these beautiful satsumas. As usual, we will have a bulk-pack available; however, unlike many years past, we will not have truck sales this winter (more on that below). This means, starting with satsumas, citrus will be available for home-delivery only. Go to our “Shop” and order yours right away!

What else will we have this winter?

As the season continues, we will be offering other citrus varieties:

  • Ruby Red Grapefruit (December-February) A true, mouth-watering piece of fruit. Healthy and hearty, we’re expecting a wonderful harvest.

  • Honeybells (January) A variety that needs no introduction. Ever tried one? They’ll be gone before you know it, so trust us: you’re going to fall in love!

  • Temples (February) An orange whose flavor is unbeatable. They're the ‘orangiest’ of oranges; you’re going to want more once they’re gone.

No Truck Sales this winter

If you’ve been our customer for any length of time, we know you look forward to seeing our trucks each winter with Florida citrus. This winter, however, we will not be making our normal truck visits. Why? (And don’t worry, we will continue making our visits in the summer with Georgia peaches and Michigan blueberries!)

For some time, we have been fighting citrus greening (also known as Huanglongbing or HLB) in Florida. In recent years, the developments have been heart breaking. We’ve lost a staggering amount of trees to this disease. Coupled with unprecedented weather events including hurricanes, we’re seeing supply to be at historic lows.

With that in mind, in order to keep bringing the finest Florida citrus, we had to decide how we can give you citrus that meets our high standards of quality. It led us north of the Indian River where growers are rushing for sustainability by means of state-of-the-art farming techniques that ward off pestilence yet promote healthy, bountiful yields. And by diversifying our citrus lineup, we can focus on quality over quantity, keeping you, our customer happy while supporting these amazing growers who will not give up.

Let’s make this a great season!

Always we thank you for your support and continued feedback as our company grows and evolves. And despite the setbacks mentioned above, we’re confident our efforts and your support will pay off. Please, feel free to share with us your thoughts and ideas here or on Facebook, as we can’t see you at the truck this winter.

What citrus do you look forward to most this year? Is there a particular recipe you make with our pecans or citrus during the season? What memories do you have at our trucks?

As always, we look forward to providing you the best!

Oregon Pears

As we have continued to ponder what fruits will excite our customers, we’ve experienced a resounding consensus for pears! There was no other state we wanted to get our pears from than the state that calls them their own, Oregon. Pears are to Oregon what peaches are to Georgia, and we were so impressed by the phenomenal flavor of these fresh Oregon pears.

We’ve partnered with renowned Kiyokawa Orchards, a family-ran farm since 1911, which is situated in the shadows of Mt. Hood. Having recently won the top spot in USA Today’s best Apple Orchard, we believe we have found one-of-a-kind fruit, which makes us even more excited to deliver these to your home. And boy were there a lot of varieties to chose from!

That left us with one question: which variety is the best?

A Winter Variety Pack

We had quite the discussions about that question over the last couple months. Which variety will our customers love the most? Would they want something familiar, like the Comice or Anjou, or something new and wonderful, like the Warren or Taylor’s Gold?

So we decided to get ‘em all together in a “Winter Mix” box so you can experience them all.

In the “Winter Mix”, there will be (6) unique varieties. Red and Green Anjous, Comice, Taylor’s Gold, Concorde, and a very special pear, the Warren. We’re confident that each variety will speak for themselves; click through the following slideshow to get a description of each.

purchasing our pears

Remember, we are viewing this as a first-time, trial run and there will be no truck locations for pears. Like many of our new products, our pears are only available for a limited time for home-delivery and come in bulk pack, meaning a box weighing approximately 23 pounds. For more information on the pack and price, or to place your order, click here.

talk to us!

So, what pear is your favorite? What do you like to do with your pears?

We are more than excited to continue these new ventures into the best fruit we can find. What other fruits would you like to see us bring? We love your ideas! Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Wisconsin Apples

Like most of our customers, we’re always sad to see the summer end. Knowing that we have to wait an entire year for more peaches and blueberries is tough. And of course, we look forward to the winter citrus season, even if it’s a long way off.

But this summer helped us to appreciate how exciting it is to work with the best fruit and deliver it to our customers. With that in mind, we’re curious to see what other fruits match our standards of quality and provide you with something you’ll love. Therefore, we’re excited to let you know about a number of new fruits we will be trying out this year, and deliver them to your doorstep!

First on that list will be Wisconsin grown apples, and we’ve teamed up with a local grower to make this possible. Similar to our other farms, we’ve been working hard to find an apple grower who is growing some amazing fruit here in Wisconsin. We’re really excited by the quality of the apples, and we think you will be too. Yet, that brings to mind another question…

Why apples?

Wisconsinites look forward to picking apples every autumn, it’s a Fall tradition! We know there is such a difference in the quality of a freshly picked apple and that which has gone into cold storage. In fact, apples that go into the “distribution chain” go through quite a process. Typically apples are picked slightly unripe, treated with chemicals, and kept in frigid warehouses on average for 9-12 months! On the other hand, our apples will be harvested ripe, packed soon after, and sent to you within days.

For many of our customers, when you can’t pick your own, getting freshly harvested apples is a challenge. So we want you to enjoy these sweet, crisp, and fresh apples grown in Wisconsin in your own home.

What kinds of apples will be offered?

This season, we will have two specific varieties: Honeycrisp and Gala. Hopefully, in future seasons

Both varieties have unique characteristics, but are still personal favorites for their sugar content, flavor, and versatility. Why not try both? Hopefully in the future we will have more varieties available.

How can you purchase them?

If you love picking apples (or maybe apple donuts?), have a wonderful time picking. Otherwise, we’ve got you covered with home delivery!

Remember, we are viewing this as a first-time, trial run and there will be no truck locations with apples and our other, new fruits.

If you are unfamiliar with our ‘truck sales’, click here. Or you can go to tree-ripe.com/shop for more information about our apples and place your order.

Yes, summer is ending, but we love Fall and everything apple related. Do you? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, including any other fruits you’d like to see us bring. We can’t wait to get you these Wisconsin grown apples!

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Georgia peach season so far

Everyone has been wondering, how are the peaches this season? We are happy to report that our first few loads of peaches from Pearson Farms have ripened and we couldn’t be more excited! They have been amazing, some of the finest peaches we've seen in years.

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We know it has been a tumultuous last couple seasons with weather issues and crop damage. We felt it and we know you did too. Every season is unique and this year is exceptional. The fruit we’ve had so far has been consistent, sweet, juicy, and delicious. Don’t let it pass you by. These are the seasons to take full advantage of. Preserve as much as you can!! You will be so thankful when you have this year's fruit in the middle of February.

If you are new to the process of canning and freezing, we are here to help. You can find a step by step guide for both canning and freezing on our website. And we rely on you, too! Our customers are our best resources for recipes and tips. Please share your experience and advice so that future generations of peach and blueberry customers can benefit from your expertise.  We love seeing your beautiful pictures on Instagram and Facebook and cannot wait to repost, share and make your wonderful creations. 

If you are anything like us, when the season is over and our last peach has been eaten.....we hope we froze and canned and preserved enough. Last year didn’t give any of us the opportunity to do that. Our freezer was empty, too. We hope you’ll take advantage of this exceptional crop of beautiful peaches and use up as many as you can. Come winter, when you’re smelling sweet peach cobblers, pies, and oatmeal crumbles in the oven you’ll be so glad you did. We hope to see you at the truck often this year!

Peach season 2018

Peach season has arrived, and we hope you're as excited as we are!

What a difference a year can make. We’re beyond excited to report that we will have a summer filled with sweet Georgia peaches. While this growing season hasn’t been completely without its challenges, we fared significantly better than last summer.

In 2017 Georgia and South Carolina lost almost their entire peach crop. This was caused by multiple factors, including a devastating freeze as well as a historically warm winter. Over this past winter, we had much colder temperatures and we reached the ideal amount of cold hours.

Going into this summer, we expected a bumper crop. However, we again faced the dangers of freezing temperatures in March. We did lose part of the peach crop, but fortunately, escaped without extensive damage. We are also seeing trees producing somewhat fewer peaches than a normal season as they are recuperating from last year. What that means is Georgia won’t have quite as many peaches as we would in a normal season. Don't worry, though! There will be plenty of peaches for us here in the Midwest.


What can you expect from this season’s crop of Georgia peaches and Michigan blueberries?

We’re expecting very sweet peaches this summer! Also, due to not producing much of a crop last summer we anticipate larger sized peaches. We’re also returning to a normal season in terms of our scheduling, with our season beginning on June 20th and lasting until August 12th.

For Michigan Blueberries this summer, it’s going to be a wonderful crop. Our friends at Leduc Blueberries in Paw Paw, Michigan can barely contain their excitement for this year’s blueberry harvest. We’ve had an ideal growing season in Michigan. This is going to be one of the best harvests we’ve had in the last 15 years!

Blueberry blossoms from this season's crop

Please keep in mind that the annual blueberry harvest traditionally begins a little later than Georgia peaches. This means that at most of our locations, our first visit is with peaches only. We will be offering blueberries beginning on or around July 4th, or as soon as they are available. As soon as the blueberries are ready to go, they will be available at all locations. For most customers this is our second and third visits of the summer.

We will offer 5 lb. boxes of Michigan blueberries on our routes for as long as they are available during our season this summer. We’re also happy to let you know that blueberries will remain the same price as last season. We encourage you to visit our Facebook page for all breaking blueberry news.

News and notes

Beginning this season, you can now purchase at the trucks with a credit card! If you do pay by credit card, just make sure you stay on our mailing or email list so you always know when we’ll be visiting! We always recommend staying updated on Facebook, we let everyone know immediately on Facebook if there are any issues with weather concerns, truck breakdowns, or fruit availability.

Make sure to carefully check for any changes to your scheduled stop. Each season we do make minor changes to our schedule. For example, we are not able to visit lower Michigan this summer. We have, however, added 3 new locations (Brillion, Lake Mills, and Pewaukee). We’d also like to thank one of our new partners Shopko, we’ll be visiting 12 Shopko locations this season. Our "Market Truck" will also be visiting select locations, and farmer's markets this summer. For a detailed listed of locations and times, click here.

It's going to be a wonderful summer, filled with Georgia peaches! We can’t wait to bring you the freshest, sweetest, and juiciest peaches and blueberries around...We’ll see you at the truck!

The Temple orange

This Monday marks the first season in over 10 years that we will be delivering Temple oranges on our truck routes. While we have been able to offer home delivery in past years for this variety of orange, many of our customers haven’t been able to experience it. For the most part, supply has been very limited. Yet, we really wanted to bring them back to our truck routes as it is one of our all-time favorite varieties.

What is a Temple orange?

It is believed that Temple oranges were brought to Florida in the 1890’s, presumably from Jamaica.

The Temple orange was named after William Chase Temple who was, amongst other things, a citrus baron and part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He even called Milwaukee home for a short time after he graduated from high school. He is credited with helping to put them into commercial production by 1917. By the 1950’s there were over 1.6 million Temple trees in Florida! 

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Temples are similar to many other varieties in that they are a hybrid variety. They are part tangerine and part orange. They typically have a deep orange color and are very juicy. The wonderful thing about a Temple orange though is the flavor. We often describe them as the “orangiest” orange there is. It has such an intense and unique sweet-tart, almost spicy flavor. They have a more tender membrane than Navels or Honeybells, despite having some seeds. And, because they are part tangerine, they normally peel very easily.

Temple oranges are also one of the best varieties to make jams, preserves, and marmalades out of. If you've never made any before, don't worry! Head over to our Pinterest page on jams and you can find tons of great recipes to use (including directions!).

We’re excited to be bringing Temple oranges again, and we hope that we’ll see you in February and March. We love Temples and we know you will too. And probably the best part of Temple season is that it means spring is right around the corner!

Citrus season 2017

What a year it has been so far! Normally, at this time of year we are reflecting on the previous peach season while looking forward to the next citrus season. With that, despite various challenges in growing conditions, we can be confident that the following season will be successful.  As you are likely aware, our peach season did not follow that pattern.

Will McGehee, Marketing Director for the Georgia Peach Council, has said 2017 ranked in the top 5 worst peach crops in recent history.

“When you go back across time,” he stated, “you’ve got 1955, we lost pretty much the entire peach crop. 1975 and we had about 3% of a peach crop. 1996, 8%, 2007 was brutal again. And now this year so, it’s- it’s going to rank in the top five, top five worst in the last 50 years.”

We vividly remember 2006 and 1996, as it meant that we couldn't provide any peaches to our customers. This year was different though, as Pearson Farm sent most of their peaches north and then some. 

Of course, after weathering this year's peach season, our attention turned to citrus. Over the last decade, the difficulties for our citrus growers have ranged from greening disease and citrus canker, to poor weather conditions. These and other factors have made growing citrus in Florida extremely difficult.

So now we head into this season. There had been much anticipation for what looked to be the best harvest in many years. In fact, the initial estimates showed that Florida would harvest more citrus then last year, possibly by 10%. In addition, weather conditions had moderated and folks in the citrus industry were excited by the quality of fruit that was developing. Also, more and more growers are feeling optimistic that all of the efforts being made to counteract greening are finally beginning to work.

Hurricane Irma

Photo by Phillippe Diederich/Getty Images News / Getty Images
Photo by Phillippe Diederich/Getty Images News / Getty Images

We followed the news closely. Everyone held their breath as hurricane season began, leaving behind devastation. It was truly heartbreaking to see the disastrous effects of Hurricanes Maria, Harvey, and Irma. In Florida, Hurricane Irma caused the most damage and was devastating to the citrus industry. Most farmers and packers were looking forward to a positive year, only to face another blow.

Despite all this, the entire citrus crop was not lost. Some estimates put the loss of the citrus crop at 35-40%. We will see some effects of this loss. For instance, we may see smaller grapefruit than we would have in a normal year. Larger grapefruit were more easily blown off of the trees. However, we will still have grapefruit this winter. While we are realistic about the effects of Hurricane Irma, we are very positive about this year's crop.  While we will not have as large a crop, the overall quality is expected to have greatly improved over recent years. This means that we anticipate both a supply for all of our visits this season, and really delicious fruit!

 Temple oranges from a previous year's harvest ; a hybrid variety between a sweet orange and a tangerine.

Temple oranges from a previous year's harvest ; a hybrid variety between a sweet orange and a tangerine.

We're really excited for this citrus season for a couple more reasons. First, this season marks the return of Temple oranges for the first time on our truck routes in over a decade. If you've never tried a Temple orange, you're in for a real treat. Once the most popular orange in Florida, it is a true citrus connoisseur’s orange. Many of our long time customers will recall that our Temple oranges were a staple of our winter citrus visits. We will be making visits to most of our locations in February with Temple oranges.

Secondly, as the struggles in the citrus state have persisted, we felt compelled to investigate other sources of citrus. What we found was amazing.

This season we will be incorporating a sampling of other citrus varieties that we love and want to share with you. Make sure you come out to the truck to see what we have as this will help shape our product lineup for future seasons. Make sure you visit our Facebook page where we’ll update you with each new product, when they’ll be on the truck, and which location they’ll be at.

And of course, we will be bringing our amazing Georgia pecans with our citrus. There is a lot to look forward to and we are truly excited to get this citrus season underway. We'll see you at the truck!

 

For more information on the effects of Hurricane Irma on the Florida citrus industry, click here.

This year's peach season

"When is peach season going to start?!" We always know it's almost summertime when everyone is asking this question. Normally by this time of year we would already have the answer and we would have excitedly passed that news along to you. However, this is going to be a very different and challenging peach season.

We never like to give bad news for one of our seasons, but especially not about peaches. Our annual trips throughout the Midwest with Georgia peaches have grown beyond what we ever could have imagined. And this is because of you! We can't stress enough how amazing the response has been through the years. We now bring almost as many individual peaches in a season as there are people living in Wisconsin!

Every summer since 1994, we've brought these incredible peaches because they're the best we could find. You just can't beat a Georgia peach. It has become such a part of our lives, we live for peach season. It is intense, but we deeply love peach season and interacting with all of you.

We say we bring peaches every summer, however, in our history we've experienced 2 seasons where we lost our peach season due to weather conditions. In 1996 and 2007 we experienced near total losses because of late season freezes, and were unable to have a peach season. We remember these years extremely well, a constant reminder that some things are outside of our control.

This season will be unlike any season we have faced, maybe ever. There will be some peaches, but not many. Not everyone will have the opportunity to purchase peaches, and prices will definitely be higher than past years. We expect this to be a temporary surge in pricing this season with a return to normal pricing when we again have an ample supply.

What factors have brought us to the situation we are in?

...between South Carolina and Georgia, we may lose more than 200,000,000 pounds of peaches.

Temperature, frost, moisture, soil condition, and many more factors influence what kind of harvest we will have each year. For instance, if we have a frost on a peach blossom, the flower will fall and we won’t have a peach. This leads to many restless nights each spring for everyone involved in growing peaches, nervously watching the temperatures. After the extraordinary amount of work in preparing the peach trees for another season, our farmers can only watch the weather helplessly each spring. In fact, in 2015 and 2016 we had late spring freezes. And in both years we narrowly, by literally a degree or two, missed devastating freezes that would have destroyed nearly 100% of our crop. This March, we had yet another freeze. This one was substantially worse, reaching temperatures as low as 21 degrees throughout the Southeast.

In South Carolina, where nearly every peach tree was blossoming, the result was catastrophic. Nearly the entire crop was wiped out. In Georgia, our trees were not as far along in the growth process and it appeared that we had survived the freeze without major losses. The reason we were further behind was because we did not have enough of what is referred to as “chill hours”.

What are "chill hours", and why do they matter?

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A misshapen peach, due to a lack of "chill hours".

This is where it all begins for a peach. Simply put, “chill hours” are the number of hours below 45 degrees over the course of the winter. This is critical for the trees, as this dormant period helps to protect the tree and regulate its growth. Most varieties of Southern peaches require 800-1000 “chill hours”. In 2015/16, we had the warmest winter in Georgia in over a decade. We ended the winter with between 700-800 “chill hours”. This past winter, we only managed 550-600 “chill hours”. This is historically bad.

When a peach tree doesn’t receive enough “chill hours”, it causes many problems. First and foremost, the buds may never open up. This is what we are seeing in later freestone varieties, the peaches we would be harvesting in mid-July through the end of our season. Those varieties have been completely lost. The blossom can be sporadic, pits can be deformed or split, the peach can be misshapen, and the tree might not have the important leaf growth needed to protect itself from the blazing Georgia sun. In other words, most of the peaches just won't make it this season. 

What does this mean for peach lovers this summer?

The fact is, there just will not be many southern peaches this season. Consider that between South Carolina and Georgia, we may lose more than 200,000,000 pounds of peaches. It is staggering to contemplate. We were presented with only two options. We could have cancelled our peach season completely or proceeded with our season without knowing if we'd even have peaches at all. While neither option was appealing, we chose the latter option. We would rather give you the possibility of getting peaches rather than no chance at all.

We’d like to think it isn't all bad news, however. There will be some peaches, and whatever is available will be coming to Wisconsin. We are thankful to have such a strong connection with Pearson Farm, we truly feel we're an extension of their farm. They will scrap and claw to get every single peach possible. They have put everything into growing these peaches, and we'll bring whatever is available. We will be providing an update each day during peach season on our Facebook page and we ask that you please check there to find out what is available before making your trip to our trucks. We have a small support staff in our office so we ask that you only call if absolutely necessary. All pertinent information will be posted on our website and Facebook page.

We'd like to think we can embrace this peach season for what it is. We take the good seasons with the difficult ones. Every peach this year isn’t going to be perfect, no doubt about it. Yet, there is something so unique and wonderful about a peach that we just have to enjoy it while we can. And we will be bringing Michigan blueberries this summer to all of our locations. 

We just will not know how many peaches will be available until picking begins. We ask that you bear with us this summer. We appreciate everyone's understanding and patience given the circumstances. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question below. We'll give you an update as soon as we know!

Our new blog!

We'd like to welcome you to our new blog! 

Why are we starting a blog, and what will be its purpose? There are a number of reasons. First and foremost, we want to effectively communicate directly with all of you, our customers. From season to season, countless variables affect our farmers. We want to be able to convey these subtleties to you, beyond letting you know if it's a 'good season' or not. 

Our blog will also replace the "News" section of our website, giving you a more complete and timely summary of how our growing seasons are progressing. We know everyone is very excited for our upcoming Georgia peach and Michigan blueberry season. We will be providing an update on our 2017 summer season very soon, we promise!

Yet, there is so much information that we need and want to be able to convey to you, and to convey to everyone even beyond our customer base. We feel that what we do is unique, and it is challenging. There are many facets to our business behind the scenes that most people just do not get to see. 

We feel that we aren't only a retail business where you can pick up amazing fruit and be on your way. We integrate farming and transportation, with retail sales. Hundreds of people make this possible. This is really all for one purpose, which is to give you the absolute freshest and best tasting  product possible.

That being said, we hope that eventually our blog can be about more than just us here at Tree-Ripe Citrus Co. We want it to be about more than just the products we bring, or the people we work with. We want to talk about quality farming, interesting ingredients, the local/regional food community, and what makes food special and unique. Hopefully, we can mix together many different topics and give you something worth investing your time into. We want to research and discuss the things you're interested in, so let us know!

Some of the topics we'll be discussing will be practical.
→ How weather affects farming, and specifically how it affects what we bring
→ How you can effectively take care of your fruit
→ Why do we work with the farms that we work with

 We've got great potential for a 4th generation at Tree-Ripe!

We've got great potential for a 4th generation at Tree-Ripe!

We will also be talking about some exciting news as we've had an ownership transition. Don't worry, we're keeping it in the family! We are making a generational transition, and you'll get a deeper look in to how this 3rd and soon to be (hopefully!) 4th generation business got started. You'll get to see our entrepreneurial roots.

We'll cover some fun topics, too. Hopefully we'll uncover some interesting aspects about how stuff is made, and why. And maybe we can connect you to our local food community just a bit more.

Above all else, we want to communicate our love for not just food, but quality food and the quality people behind it. We're excited to see everyone this summer... and we hope you enjoy the blog!