It’s August. It’s steamy. It’s the pits! Except the pits at the farm are ones you won’t want to miss. Confused? August is all about pitted fruits, also known as stone fruits: freestone peaches, nectarines, plums, and white peaches. We’re harvesting these beauties all month.

Stone fruits are often overlooked for berries, which are more commonly associated with summertime enjoyment. So we’re on a mission to uphold the virtues of our August harvest. Here are three reasons to choose these fleshy gems:

  • Portability: No container needed. It’s as simple as grab and go.
  • Storage: Fresh for days on the counter, and another day or more in the fridge once ripened.
  • Durability: The tougher skin on stone fruit helps prevent cuts and dripping juice.

If that’s not enough, how about we tempt you with a few health facts?

  • Nectarines are a good source of beta carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A.
  • Peaches are considered to have calming properties, and their selenium content helps fight cancer.
  • Plums have a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t have a great impact on blood sugar.

No persuasion tops that of the taste buds, so here are a few stone-fruit recipes you won’t be able to resist:

Plum and Mascarpone Pie

Kale Salad with Peaches, Corn, and Honey Vinaigrette

Caramelized Nectarine and Feta Quesadilla

When it comes to peaches, plums, and nectarines, throwing stones has never been so sweet! We hope we’ve tossed enough temptation your way. We’ll see you at the farm this month!

We love our home state and try to celebrate its history and our heritage in as many ways as possible at the farm. The addition of a bison herd was one of these ways. These magnificent creatures represent the bison that were a natural part of the state’s fauna centuries ago. The first bison arrived at Orr farm in March 2007: two cows, two calves, and two bulls. Since that time, the herd has grown and we’ve learned a lot about being caretakers of these hulking yet skittish beasts!

Bison are commonly referred to as buffalo. They ranged freely throughout West Virginia before the last were killed off around 1825. Besides their purpose as a source of food for settlers, the presence of these animals created a unique byproduct: By trampling thick underbrush and dense forest cover, the bison created travel routes for settlers. Known as “buffalo roads,” some of these pathways gave way to official turnpikes and other high-traffic roads throughout the state.*

Our bison add a lot of character to the farm. Whether visitors are picking berries, enjoying a Bluegrass Weekend, or roaming the market, they’re sure to notice our big, burly residents. Some prefer to take a peek from afar, while others want to get as close as possible—which isn’t very close, mind you. Bison are notoriously shy, and they can be aggressive. So while we want our visitors to enjoy the herd, we do ask that you keep a safe distance. In addition to being fun to look at, the bison at the farm serve a practical purpose, one we take seriously and go about with care and humanity. The bison provide us with meat, which is processed locally and returned to the farm to be sold in the market in the form of sticks, jerky, steaks, bologna, sausage, hot dogs, and burger.

Having a healthy bison herd as part of our farm means a lot to us. We hope our visitors appreciate the West Virginia heritage they represent and enjoy the foods they provide. So now you know more about our herd and their place in West Virginia history. Next time you’re at the farm, or if it’s your first time, make sure to take a gander at our furry friends behind the fence!

*Info summarized from alleghenymountainradio.org

The word family means a lot to us at Orr Farm Market. After all, it’s why we’re here. The farm and market you know today grew from a 60-acre orchard purchased in 1954 by George S. Orr Jr. After his passing, his wife, children, and grandchildren took over operations and helped guide the business to even more growth. We couldn’t be more proud of what our business has become: a thriving source of local commerce and a place of community gathering.

For the Orr family, running the farm and market is the only thing we can imagine doing. It brings together our love of the land, agriculture, and our community. Of course, there’s also “serious business” to take care of, and we do that pretty well too. We enjoy the opportunity to come together to discuss new ideas, celebrate successes, and solve problems. Throughout the years, we have each developed special areas of interest and experience that we apply to different aspects of the business.

Running a family business comes with unique challenges. We manage it with a few core values. One of our priorities is to treat employees and family the same. That helps maintain a positive environment for everyone. We also try to keep separate our personal and business interactions. It can get tricky at times, but for us, the benefits of running a family business are greater than the hurdles it presents.

Speaking of hurdles, here are a few bits of expert advice for family businesses:

  • Be organized. When there are multiple opinions tossed around without structure, nothing gets accomplished. Select a business model that allows productivity.
  • Put it in writing. When business decisions are spelled out clearly, it helps prevent confusion.
  • Use constructive criticism. Interact with each other as businesspeople, not as family members.

This country is packed full of family-run businesses. Each has its unique story of how it began. Some businesses start by accident, while others are a product of long-held dreams. While family-run businesses differ wildly in size and services, they have in common the bond of family at the helm. We plan to keep passing down our experience and our love of farming to every generation of the Orr family. We hope you and yours stay along for the ride!

Question: What fruit looks like a giant smile when sliced and is the envy of bubble gum?

Answer: the watermelon!

August might be the last month of summer, but it’s the beginning of watermelon season, and that’s something to smile about. Our watermelon harvest will be ready soon, and coinciding with it is National Watermelon Day on August 3. Although here at Orr’s we love all fruits, we have to admit that the watermelon is the ultimate symbol of summertime. With that grassy-green skin and hot-pink flesh, it just looks like summer. Is there any other fruit with such a satisfying blend of taste and texture? And then there are the seeds—we’ve all enjoyed shooting a mouthful, haven’t we. Maybe even as adults!

To celebrate National Watermelon Day, check out some fast facts about our favorite rotund refresher.

  • At 91.5% water, it’s an excellent source of natural hydration.
  • A one-cup serving contains more of the super antioxidant lycopene than a large tomato.
  • Low sodium content makes it a healthy choice that won’t negatively affect blood pressure.
  • Citrulline, an amino acid concentrated in the rind, is related to improved artery function and lower blood pressure.

From June through August, water is the name of the game. We drink tons of it, play in it, and cool off with it. With water in its name, this melon is primed to be the spokesperson for summer. Come on out to the farm and pick one up—with two hands and a little help if you need!

In the meantime, we dug up two funky watermelon recipes you have to try before summer’s end.

Watermelon, Basil, and Feta Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 pounds seedless watermelon (rind removed), cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips (see note)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, broken into large pieces (about 1 cup)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine watermelon, lime juice, and half the basil; season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Divide among four plates; scatter cheese and remaining basil on top.

*Courtesy marthastewart.com

Watermelon Gazpacho

  • 3 cups seedless watermelon, pureed in a blender
  • 1 cup seedless watermelon diced small
  • 1 cup ripe tomatoes, diced small, about 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 peeled, seeded cucumber, about 1/2 of one large cucumber
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced small
  • 2 cobs of raw sweet corn, kernels removed 
  • 1/4 red onion, peeled, and diced fine
  • 2 or more Tablespoons of lime juice, to taste
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 small jalapeno, seeded and minced – alternately you could add several dashes of cayenne
  • 1 tsp sea salt or more to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • large handful of cilantro cut fine as garnish

First blend your 3 cups watermelon until pureed. In a large bowl combine your watermelon puree with the diced watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, corn, onion, ginger, and jalapeno. Add lime juice, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Adding more of each as needed.

*Courtesy lindawagner.net

Photo Credit: Snowpea & Bokchoi. Licensed under: CC BY 2.0