August 16, 2006
Photos and text by Debbie Roos, Agricultural Extension Agent.
Cut flower crops planted in front of Haygrove tunnels. Haygroves are multi-bay tunnels that the Hitts use to grow high quality crops like heirloom tomatoes and cut flowers. The tunnels protect crops from the rain and allow the Hitts to control the amount of moisture going to the crops. Too much rain can ruin the quality of certain crops like melons and cut flowers and also speeds the spread of certain diseases in crops like tomatoes.
Alex and Betsy do not use pesticides on their farm and so they rely on cultural practices to help prevent pest problems from getting out of control.
Alex talks about his no-till pepper production with a group of student interns from the Center for Environmental Farming Systems
in Goldsboro, NC. Peregrine Farm is nationally known and is considered a model for a diverse, sustainable small farm. Alex and Betsy often host visiting groups interested in touring the farm and learning more about their operation.
An early April view of a lettuce field planted in several varieties. Alex staggers his planting dates to extend the harvest season.
Alex harvests leaf lettuce in early May for wholesaling to Weaver Street Market in Carrboro. Moveable high tunnels can be seen in the background.
Click here for more photos and information on their sliding high tunnels.
Alex mows a summer crop mixture of sorghum-sudangrass and a legume. Cover crops are an integral part of the rotation at Peregrine Farm, helping to improve the soil and provide nutrients to cash crops.
A fall-planted cover crop of rye, vetch, and crimson clover has just been rolled in late April to kill it in preparation for no-till tomato production under the Haygrove tunnel.
Early June view of young tomato crop. Alex plants dozens of heirloom varieties, choosing varieties that have the best flavor for his very discerning chefs and farmers’ market customers.
Alex visits with the young heritage-breed turkeys that they raise for the Thanksgiving market. They young poults arrive in May and are moved around the farm, confined by portable electric fencing, to forage on crops that have already been harvested. The turkeys feed on insects and grasses. They spend the night in the shelters (pictured at left in the photo) to protect them from predators.
Click here for more photos and information on their pasture-based turkey production.
A table full of Peregrine Farm offerings for the Thanksgiving market at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market
. This is the day when Peregrine customers pick up their fresh, pasture-raised turkey.
A mountain of bunched carrots at the Thanksgiving market.
Betsy harvests Campanula from the Haygrove. She grows over 150 different varieties of cut flowers in the field, in the sliding high tunnels, and in the Haygroves.
Lisianthus in the Haygrove tunnel. The plastic netting provides support for the flowers so they don’t flop over.
Zinnias are one of Betsy’s “workhorse” varieties because they are so vibrant and dependable. Betsy does several plantings of her cut flowers and often gets multiple cuttings from each planting.
Betsy trims, strips, and bunches her flowers. Proper postharvest handling is essential to cut flower production. Flowers must be grown and handled properly to ensure a long vase life. Flowers are harvested shortly before going to market and stored in a walk-in cooler.
Betsy wraps up flowers for a customer at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market
. Her huge, varied, and colorful flower display is a great draw for customers.