People in food industry scratch their heads when they hear that we have too many fresh produce suppliers to count. Our guardian angels/farmers range in scale from third-generation fruit farms producing tonnes of fruit each season, to emerging farmers who own a set of tools and not much more, and make a living growing short season crops on borrowed land. In addition to their harvests, we forage, we receive gifted fruit and herbs (from family and friends’ gardens), and we exchange ice cream for fruit.
This is not how most food businesses work. They get ‘fresh’ groceries in from one general catering supplier, who probably buys them wholesale at Epping Green Market. Which is a heck of a lot easier, and sometimes cheaper (especially when you’re dealing with cheap imported fruit from China). But if we worked that way, we wouldn’t be able to make blossom ice creams in the spring, or be able to tell you where that blackberry came from, or how it was grown. And we wouldn’t be able to be the sole recipient of Franci’s single pear tree in Somerset West this week.
Ten pears. When he smsed me this week’s herb and vegetable availability list from his business, Nowo Organics, he ended it: pears, 10. Knowing Franci, I didn’t misread that as ten kilos, or ten boxes of pears. He isn’t a fruit farmer, but he has a couple older fruit trees on the land he farms, and for someone farming a smallholding, ten pears are something to get excited about, to carefully count, to anticipate, to savour. And when our order arrived this morning, we didn’t care that we have fourteen kilos of other pears in the kitchen: we got super excited, for Franci, and for us, the lucky recipients. Those ten pears are heavy and firm, a couple still bearing leaves. The largest one weighs almost half a kilo, which is pretty much unheard of in commercial fruit growing. And they’re sitting on our kitchen table, where we can keep an eye on them, so we don’t miss that narrow window of ripeness when a pear is perfection itself.