There are only two ways I know of to get an organic peach grown in Fairfield County, Connecticut (or anywhere else in the state for that matter). One is to have a CSA share in The Hickories, which only distributes their precious orchard fruit to shareholders. The other is to be lucky enough to hit the stand at Warrup’s Farm on a peach picking day. Those days are right now.
I visited the farm stand late last week with my son and a friend and we were all disappointed to not find peaches. We killed some time walking around the fields, admiring the basil, tomatoes (lots of them!), and other late summer vegetables thriving in the hot, sun-drenched fields. We secretly hoped someone would show up at the stand with peaches. My friend soon spotted an intern and gave me the high sign. I was delighted to also see farmer Bill Hill since he was sure to give us the scoop. “Not for a few days” he said when asked about peach availability, “then we’ll have them at the stand for $2 a pound. There aren’t enough for our CSA families.” Our collective disappointment must have been palpable, because he took pity and offered to let us pick a few ripe peaches off the trees in the orchard (PYO is closed this year).
After a short walk to the orchard, we began jumping up to reach the lowest hanging limbs that appeared to bear ripe fruit, hoping for a prize. All the while we were competing with every sweet, orchard fruit-loving insect. “We don’t touch them” said Hill, referring to the no spray, no hand picking of bugs stance they take with the peaches. “They’re not beautiful” he cautioned. While that was true for a handful of them, we did manage to pick quite a few gorgeous ones that would be ready for eating after a few days of counter top ripening. Extensive surgery would be required on the ones that insects had beaten us to. At $2 a pound, the extra work seemed more than worth it. We returned to the farm stand to weigh our peaches and other produce, fill out purchase tickets, and add our payments to the jar.
During the ride home my son suggested we use our precious peach cargo to make ice cream. Knowing these would probably be the only local, organic peaches we’d find, it seeded a fitting way to prepare them for enjoyment during the last fleeting weeks of summer. After a few days’ ripening, they were perfect. Ever the frugal and shortcut cook, I searched for an appropriate peach ice cream recipe online and found one from Every Day with Rachael Ray that required no eggs and no custard cooking. Tonight after dinner, two little heads watched intently over our Cuisinart ice cream maker as it churned the thick and peachy mixture until it was frozen thick. Enjoying local, organic peach ice cream on a hot and stormy August evening, we felt lucky indeed.
Whether you eat them out of hand or make them into jam or ice cream, Warrup’s peaches are delicious and healthy. Organic vegetables available at the stand include newly harvested garlic, a wide variety of heirloom and other tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash and cabbage. The farm stand is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11-5 through the first frost. The farm is also open seasonally for pumpkins and cut your own Christmas trees. Maple sugar demonstrations are typically held the first three weekends in March from 11-5. It’s best to visit Warrup’s website for posted schedules or call 203-938-9403 to plan your visit.
Warrup’s Farm announced a summer/fall CSA Program last year and it quickly filled up with 30 families. Please click here to add your name to the waiting list for 2012.
Warrup’s Farm is located on John Read Road in Redding, CT, 1.2 miles north of Redding Center, off Route 107.