When you are farming you obviously spend a lot of time really close to the ground. I am fortunate that there is less distance to the ground for me than there is for Michael or Brian, and thanks to my flexible hips and hamstrings (shout out to Hot Yoga!), I find it an enjoyable way to observe a whole different universe.
In your share this week are ground cherries, which earn their name by growing on a low shrub from the spring through summer and waiting until August when they ripen and drop hundreds of lantern-like packages onto the ground, each containing a sweet fruit that has been described to be like a tomato, grape, even butterscotch. They get sweeter and more golden as they ripen off the plant. They are time-consuming to harvest because they must be sorted in order to try and eliminate the fruits that were found by other critters first, namely ants.
I discovered another animal that has a penchant for these sweets when I pulled back a branch to find the rough patterned shell of an Eastern Box Turtle nestled in a heap of empty husks. I am happy for this guy to eat all the fruits he wants and I hope he lives a long and happy life in our garden. Curious about their life-span I looked on Wikipedia, which said they can live up to 100 years in the wild! It also said that the main dangers to box turtles are getting hit by cars and agricultural machinery, so luckily we are close enough to the ground to spot them when we are using the tiller that hopefully we can avoid that.
In the ecosystem that is the farmers market, we have gotten mixed reviews about the ground cherries. They are bit of an acquired taste, but people who like them tend to love them. I suggest eating them raw, putting them on a salad, or use them in baking as a tart filling. I am curious to try them with something acidic like onion or tomato in a sauce or chutney perhaps, but usually they don’t stick around long enough to get cooked.
This is Brian’s last week of his internship, which also means it will be our last week at the Wednesday AND Saturday Lynchburg market, unfortunately. We will still be at the Forest Farmers Market on Saturday, so if you need to get more bread you can find us there!