Pickles and Cherries

It's pickling season! Call now to place your orders for fresh Kirbygrown pickling cucumbers. 3-4" are best for making whole dills, and 5-6" are preferred for bread and butter slices, chunks or relish. If you've been in the market lately, you now that July is also cherry season. We've had sweet cherries for a while and sour cherries will be arriving soon.

One important Cherry tradition at Kirby's is the IQF cherry pickup. IQF stands for Individually Quick Frozen, and there's no sugar added. We have 4lb bags of sour 8lb bags of sweet, and 6lb bags of blueberries available in the market year round. The July pickup is special because you can order them in 20lb or 40lb bags and save money by buying in bulk. IQF fruit is extremely convenient for baking. Since they're pitted it's less work, and the individually frozen fruits don't stick together, so they are easy to pour. They're great for smoothies, and super refreshing on a hot summer day eaten right out of the bag.

Our pickup days this year are August 5th and 6th between 9am and noon. Orders must be placed by July 31st. Bring a nice, big, cooler when you come to pick them up so they'll stay frozen on the trip home.

August Perennial of the Month : Echinacea


The Echinacea (Coneflower) at the market is putting on quite a show right now! These tough, enthusiastic plants are easy to grow in most gardens. Stop by and enjoy all the summer color in our perennial area and display gardens!

Perennial Manager Jaime Brennan tells us about Echinacea, the perennial of the month here at Kirby's:

"Echinacea has been around for a long time (North American Plains Indians used it for a variety of medicinal purposes. They learned about it by watching injured or sick elk that sought out the plant!) and is a plant that is shared between many gardeners.

"It is always fun to see where it wants to be in your garden. You may have planted it in one garden the year before and have found it chose a new location the following year, maybe with the help of a winged friend. You can find a large array of Echinaceas from purpurea to newer varieties like 'Hot Papaya'. They are all striking and provide a food source for butterflies when they are in bloom and for birds when they have gone to seed."

  • In 1998, the Perennial Plant Association chose Echinacea purpurea "Magnus" as the perennial of the year.
  • Some varieties are fragrant
  • Echinaceas are considered deer resistant.
  • Echinacea makes a great cut flower for bouquets, lasting up to two weeks in a vase.
  • The spiky brown seedheads are also great for dried arrangements.
  • Echinacea is well known for it's medicinal benefits.  For a scientific look, go here.

We carry 16 different kinds of Echinacea at Kirby's: Echinacea purpurea; 'After Midnight'; 'Double Decker'; 'Fatal Attraction'; 'Fragrant Angel'; 'Green Envy'; 'Green Jewel'; 'Hot Papaya'; 'Magnus'; 'Pink Double Delight'; 'Ruby Giant'; 'Ruby Star';'Virgin', 'Big Sky', 'Sombrero Hot Pink', and 'Sunrise'. There is a color and a style for everyone!



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August Snapshots

August is a beautiful month at the market.  Produce, perennials, and great food! Mouse over for captions, click for larger images, and enjoy!


Helenium "Copelia"

Hot peppers, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and sweet pepper combine for a beautiful palette of summer color!

Gentian "True Blue" and Heuchera "Obsidian" are a beautiful summer perennial pairing for your garden!Ratatouille, ready to go in the oven! Eggplant slices alternate with zucchini, tossed with garlic, olive oil and sea salt.Every year we grow a a rainbow of gladiolas in the field. They are usually available right up to Fall!Fresh, Kirbygrown sweetcorn, a summertime essential.Another planting of homegrown beets are here.Sungold yellow cherry tomatoes and Sweet 100's cherry tomato are like a little bowl of sunshine!Rudebekia triloba, an adorable little black eyed susan, frames the entry next to a stationary display.Gladiolas are one of the best flowers we can grow for arrangements. Every bud will open, even the tightest one. Just keep trimming from the bottom as the older blooms die, and keep the water fresh.

A reminder that Fall is right around the corner! Every tree in our orchards is loaded with apples, some of them nearly ready for picking!

Does this cool weather make you think about Fall? It will be here before you know it! Make sure you take full advantage of the wonderful summer produce filling the market throughout August and September!

What's Fresh

Peaches - bushels of peaches arrived this morning. As you can see, the color is gorgeous. We pick our peaches tree ripened for flavor and a little firm to avoid bruising. The first peaches are always clingstone  (the fruit clings to the pit) but the flavor and incredible juiciness make up for it!

Sweet Corn- Our very own. Order by the bushel for your next summer picnic!

Tomatoes - nothing compares to the taste of a field grown tomato! Available by the pound right now, but canning season is just around the corner. Stay tuned...

Sweet Peppers - green for now, the red are getting redder all the time in this sunshine!

Eggplant - a unique vegetable in appearance and texture... eggplant parm, anyone?

Pickles - you can pick up these tiny, crisp versions of cucumbers one at a time or by the bushel. Our favorite cucumbers for salads. Available in 3-4" (perfect for whole dills) or 5-6" (best for sweet chunks, relishes and slicing). We also have regular cucumbers for slicing.

Zucchini and Summer Squash -  Have you tried grilling zucchini yet? Just toss it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe some fresh herbs and you're good to go.

Black Raspberries - Fill a few freezer bags to enjoy this amazing flavor in the winter time! Great with yogurt for breakfast, in cobblers, cakes and pies... if they make it home, that is.

Beets - have you tried them shredded on top of salads? They add a wonderful splash of color to so many dishes

Sweet Cherries - won't be here too much longer. Another great treat to stock up in the freezer!

Sour Cherries - Their season is very short, so grab them while they're here. If you're a fan of these refreshing, sweet-tart stone fruits, check out the previous blog entry. You can enjoy them allll year long.

Locally grown - we also have blueberries from Fabry's in Holley, red raspberries from Brown's in Waterport, and carrots from a farm in the Rochester area.



Sweet, Cold, and Delicious

IQF Cherry Pickup! Call Now to Place Your Orders


Pick up Dates Are:  Friday, August 5th 9am to Noon

Saturday August 6th, 9am to Noon


IQF Blueberries - 30 lbs

IQF Sour Cherries - 20 lbs or 40 lbs

***NEW!  IQF Sweet Cherries - 40lbs ***

Please note that we don't have enough freezer space to store frozen  fruit past noon. Come as close to 9am as you can to make sure your cherries thaw as little as possible!

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Do you have a favorite sour cherry recipe? Post it as a comment on this post for a chance to win 4lbs of IQF Cherries! A winner will be randomly selected on August 5th.



Have you ever seen a cherry shaker?

They look pretty strange. There are two very similar halves that go on either side of the tree, each driven independently by a 'tractor', tucked beneath a large, moveable, piece of yellow canvas stretched on a metal framework. A big pair of retractable pincers is nestled in the middle of one half. The pincers grab the tree and shake it! Ripe cherries tumble onto the canvas and cascade down the angled fabric, while a conveyor belt on the other half of the machine catches the cherries, sending them into a giant bin full of water and ice.  I can totally imagine the thought process that went into designing this contraption!

The Kirby brothers (Francis, George, Bob, and John) invested in a cherry shaker together around 1980. Every year each farm would send a representative or two to help out as the cherry shaker made it's way from orchard to orchard. You need a truck driver, someone to man both halves of the shaker, people to drive the tractor or two moving bins around and loading them on the truck, as well as several people to fill bins with ice and water.

My empathy for trees and the serious demeanor of everyone involved, combined with the activity, noise, and vibrations in a place normally so quiet and tranquil, all added up to make quite the impression on my seven year old mind. Every year we would go out to the orchard to watch. If you're interested, there are some videos on youtube showing how the different parts of a cherry shaker work! I'll try to get some photos up of our cherry harvest this year.

The Kirby clan has sent many tons of cherries to the processor over the years. Only a small fraction goes to market as fresh fruit because they just don't keep that long. (They're fresh picked in the market RIGHT NOW, grab 'em while you can!) The cherries are washed, pitted, and frozen at the processors. From there they go to various companies to be made into pie fillings, juices, etcetera.

For decades large tins of frozen cherries, some of them sugared, were available to retailers and the public. Anyone remember those? My Dad made a trip to Middleport twice a year, bringing back a truckload of frozen cherries to fill the orders. People line up in the front room, pick up their cherries, pay at the register, and whisk them away to their freezers to enjoy a year of pies, cobblers, and other cherry dishes. It goes like clockwork!Sour Cherry Dessert

There aren't too many things that have changed over the years...

Instead of a tin full of frozen cherries that often stuck together in blocks, the fruit is now quick frozen so they pour out like marbles, and packed in large blue plastic bags. After a fire closed the plant in Middleport, we now get our truckload of IQF cherries from Holley Cold Pack, along with IQF Blueberries.

The biggest change is that you can get IQF fruit from Kirby's whenever we're open, May-December. We have a freezer in the market  full of 4-8 pound bags of fruit - sweet cherries, sour cherries, and blueberries. We still have the big IQF event each year (coming up soon!) because as always, you save money by ordering large amounts.


(585) 637-2600


JULY Perennial of the Month

Hostas Perennial Manager Jaime Brennan tells us about a plant with leaves of endless variety, Hostas, the July perennial of the month here at Kirby's:

"What is a shade garden without a Hosta or two? They come in so many shapes, sizes and colors. My biggest challenge every year is selecting just a few new varieties.

One of our new varieties this year includes possibly the largest known Hosta, 'Empress Wu', growing up to three to four feet high and wide with leaves measuring more than 1 ½ feet wide and long.

It has a strong upright habit with pale reddish violet flowers starting in early summer.I only wish we had more shade to plant one. At the other end of the scale we have 'Love Pat' a 14” Hosta with intense blue, deeply cupped and puckered leaves. White trumpet shaped flowers bloom from mid to late summer.

When I first started gardening I used to challenge myself to design shade gardens without any Hostas. They were too common for me at the time, but now I have come to appreciate the gracefulness of their leaves, the texture and variety of color that help to brighten any shade garden. It is also a joy to watch the hummingbirds dance from blossom to blossom.

We carry 24 varieties of Hostas: Hosta plantaginea; 'Blue Angel'; 'Blue Mammoth'; 'Dancing in the Rain'; 'Elegans'; 'Empress Wu'; 'Francee'; 'Frances Williams'; 'Ginkgo Craig'; 'Gold Standard';  'Hadspen Blue'; 'Honeybells'; 'Love Pat'; 'Niagara Falls'; 'Northern Exposure'; 'Pauls Glory'; 'Peanut'; 'Remember Me'; 'Robert Frost'; 'Sagae'; 'Sum and Substance'; 'Thunderbolt'; 'Tokudama Flavocircinalis'; and 'Wolverine'.


Plant Sale!

I know a lot of our customers have been waiting for this moment. Our greenhouse still has plenty of beauitful plants in it,  including big hanging baskets, geraniums... and lots more.

Starting Sunday, July 3rd, all Hanging Baskets will be 25% off and all other annuals will be 50% off!


Perennial of the Month for June: Baptisia

Talking about getting in under the wire....! There are still a few days left in June, plenty of time to talk about this star of the Spring, Baptisia. We have several plantings in our display garden, some paired with classic orange poppies, and they are attention grabbers.

>>> And as a special bonus, a selection of Spring Blooming perennials is on sale NOW, including some Baptisia! Follow the signs to our "Back Mat" (where we keep our extra perennials) to find a stash of bargain Spring Bloomers.

And now, a few words about Baptisia from our perennial manager Jaime Brennan:

"Baptisia is one of my absolute favorite perennials, being a native plant is one of the reasons why. I only wish it bloomed all summer, but it does produce attractive seedpods that last all fall and through the winter. There are some newer varieties that have longer bloom time.  Baptisia australis is growing in the garden bordering the west side of our parking lot. They have become large beautiful bushes that have attractive light blue green leaves. Right now (June) you can see what a wonderful combination they make with oriental poppies. We have one beautiful plant of Baptisia alba located in the east garden at the edge of the road. There have been many requests for this plant that has dark stems with contrasting white flowers. My fingers are crossed that we will be able to offer them this year (several years ago I ordered Baptisia alba but they all bloomed blue).

Baptisia has a very large taproot that helps it tolerate the heat and drought we can experience here in NY at least once a summer. Their tall spikes have flowers that resemble that of a pea flower, which is not surprising because it is a member of the pea family. One interesting function that pea family plants can do is make their own nitrogen. If you've ever wondered what those small nodules on the roots were for – now you know."

In Season Now

Dark Sweet Cherries showed up last Saturday.

Freeze them, dry them, blend them with lemonade, toss some onto a salad - if they make it home that is!  When the Sweet Cherries show up, Sour Cherries can't be far behind.

July is fast approaching!

We've had strawberries for several weeks but they won't be here much longer. Now is the time to purchase by the flat for jam, juice, and freezing. Freezing is my favorite way to preserve strawberries for the winter. Last year I somehow ran out of time and only got around to making jam. Let me tell you, I missed them alll winter. And I learned my lesson - there are eight quarts in my freezer right now!

Our lettuce is grown right behind the market,

so we can take a short walk out back and pick more whenever we need to. We keep at least two heads of each type available (Green Leaf, Red Leaf, Ithaca, and Buttercrunch), and you know it's fresh! I didn't know what good lettuce was until we started growing it ourselves. It is so sweet and tender and beautiful!

Regular Peas are still going strong!

We'll have them for a few more weeks, so take a few pounds home to enjoy a little pea-shelling meditation on the front porch.

Ode to a Busy Saturday Morning

Five bushels of edible pod peas, still warm from the sun.

Twelve flats of strawberries, surrounded by a cloud of sweet perfume.

Crisp lettuce, like huge, ruffled, green roses, lined up patiently in a crate.

A pile of curling garlic scapes, like the discarded jewelry of faeries, ready to add garlicky flavor to anything cooking in the kitchen.

A wagon loaded with forty pounds of strawberries, picked by three generations!

The last of the asparagus: short, tender and sweet, like a final good bye from Spring.

They all disappear one by one, in the hands of a steady stream of fruit and vegetable lovers. Our customers!


Baked Goods from Greg'ry's, Bergen, NY

Aside from the beautiful produce coming in on this beautiful day, I am excited to share the news with you that we are once again carrying baked goods from Greg'ry's Bakery in Bergen. For years we sold rows of their delicious fruit-filled pies, stacks of cookies and plenty of loaves of bread. Once again our display is full of their high quality treats. (I have spent the entire morning resisting the urge to try one of everything! Now I just have to make the choice between giant cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, scone or a little strawberry rhubarb pies...what to pick...).  Stop by on any Friday, Saturday or Sunday and savor a treat from Greg'ry's!

Delicious Days of June: Field Update & Recipe

Things are really picking up speed on the farm! You can practically watch the crops grow with the sunshine and warm temperatures we've been enjoying.

Kirbygrown produce available in the market right now:

  • Strawberries
  • Edible Pod (Sugar Snap) Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Rhubarb
  • Peppers (field grown in our high tunnel)
  • MacIntosh, Empire and Crispin Apples (last years, from CA storage)

We also have locally grown gourmet mixed field greens (that's a delicious mouth full!),  and hothouse tomatoes.

We are expecting regular peas to be here by the weekend in about ten days if the temperatures stay above seventy, and we'll start Pick Your Own peas and strawberries in the next week or so. If you're interested in pick your own, give us a call at (585)637-2600 to check on picking conditions.


Strawberry Spinach Salad

Last week, Betty, one of our market salespeople, brought this salad in for us to try. It features two of our favorite early summer ingredients, and was so refreshing that we had to share it with you!

For the Salad

  • 1 lb fresh, washed Spinach
  • 2 cups sliced Strawberries
  • ¼ cup slivered Almonds

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup Miracle Whip
  • ½ cup Orange Juice concentrate
  • 1 Tbsp Honey


Combine Miracle Whip, honey, and orange juice in a small bowl. Set aside.

Tear the spinach into bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl or on individual salad plates. Arrange strawberries on top of spinach. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with Almonds. Enjoy!

Rhubarb, a Last Taste of Spring

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Definitely one of the lesser known vegetables, rhubarb is tart, tart, tart. Just about any rhubarb recipe you encounter will also have a good amount of sugar in the ingredients list. Next time you pick some up, try a bite of it raw and you'll know why. Although rhubarb is most often found in pies and crisps, sometimes in breads, and occasionally as a sauce (my favorite), I've also heard of plenty of people eating it raw dipped in sugar. For those that favor this method, there's usually a story about hiding in grandmother's garden among the tall rhubarb leaves, with the sugar bowl.

History and Nutrition:

Wikipedia tells us that rhubarb has been enjoyed for thousands of years in China and Russia. As an import, it's value topped expensive spices like cinnamon in medieval Europe, but it didn't appear in the states until the early eighteen hundreds. Rhubarb's biggest nutritional contribution is Vitamin K (45% of your daily allowance) and Vitamin C (16%). It also tallies up a notable amount of Calcium (10%), Potassium(10%), and  Manganese (12%), among other nutrients. The leaves are, in fact, poisonous. That's why you will never see them for sale, we always chop them off first.


Recipe: Rhubarb Sauce

New to the flavors of rhubarb? I definitely recommend trying this recipe for Rhubarb Sauce. It's incredibly simple, you get to put it on vanilla ice cream, and it would be impossible to feature the flavor of this unique vegetable to a higher degree.

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 2 lbs Kirbygrown Rhubarb, trimmed, washed, and cut into small chunks.

Preparation: In a saucepan simmer sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Add rhubarb and simmer for 15 minutes,  stirring occasionally. Adjust sugar to taste.

Set aside to cool for about twenty minutes, then serve warm over vanilla (or strawberry!) ice cream, or simply in a cup by itself. It's also a great breakfast chilled, with vanilla yogurt.

Variations: Stir in 1tsp vanilla extract before serving to balance out the rhubarb with some mellow sweetness. For another delicious variation, add 1 cup of fresh, chopped Kirbygrown strawberries or whole raspberries right after you take the sauce off the stove.



If you've tried all of the the usual rhubarb options and you're looking for something new, check out some of the ideas at epicurious. The sweet/sour/savory chutney paired with a pork tenderloin is definitely on my to-do list! Have any favorite uses for rhubarb, or stories of grandma's garden? Let us know, we'd love to hear about it!

Featured Artisan for June: Deborah Wilson

Teapot, cup and colander by local potter Deborah Wilson.

Deborah Wilson, from Waterport, NY, makes her pottery by hand from stoneware clay. The pieces are thrown on a wheel or constructed from slabs. The glazes she uses are non-toxic and durable (dishwasher, microwave and oven safe). Her pieces are meant for functional, everyday use, and their fun, vibrant colors make them even more enjoyable. Deborah likes to find inspiration for her designs from nature.


We asked Deborah toshare a little bit about what it's like to be a potter....

What is your favorite part about creating pottery? DW: "My two favorite stages of the process are the actual forming, where I get to interact with clay; after 25 years I've never lost my love for this wonderful, infinitely malleable, expressive material. The other part I love is opening a warm kiln full of glaze fired pots and seeing how the pieces were transformed  in the firing process."

What do you enjoy about being an artisan in WNY? DW: "I enjoy living and working in a more relaxed semi-rural environment after many years of being a city potter. There's a great appreciation of handmade work in this community. There aren't many other potters locally, so I enjoy being able to teach the craft to students who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity."

Is there a particular thing that inspires your work? DW: "Most of my pottery is designed to be used for a practical purpose. I'm striving for a good combination of functionality and beauty in my pieces. I'm inspired by the colors and forms of nature. I love the subtle variations and "happy accidents" that can happen with glazes."

Thank you, Deborah,  for sharing your art and your process with us!

By Jessica Young and Stacey Kirby

A Memorial Day Update!

I have to admit, I did not have high hopes for the weather this Memorial Day weekend (pretty sure I'm not alone on that)! But it has been so nice, aside from those brief, spotty showers Saturday morning. The sunshine is a boon for barbecues, gardeners and garden centers alike. We need a little break from the wet to relax by the grill, visit with friends and family, and to add a little beauty around our houses - colorful annuals, hardy perennials, and a tomato or six.

Out on the farm, we've been lucky enough to continue planting in most areas. There are a few fields that look more like a swamp then a field, but the high, sandy soil here on the Ridge is a huge benefit. When asked about the weather, Farmer Tim will answer, "First it was challenging, then it was frustrating, and now it's just unbelievable." Things are still growing though! Yesterday we saw the first bloom on the pea plants - fresh peas in about three weeks!

In the market right now, we have fresh Kirbygrown asparagus, spinach and rhubarb. We also have three varieties of CA Apples: Empire; AC Mac; and Crispin. (CA stands for controlled atmosphere, a method of storage that keeps the apples unbelievably crisp.) I had a Mac for lunch earlier and it was great! The apples are absolutely delicious with Kutter's cheddar, available in our cooler right now.

Walking around in the greenhouse area is so pleasant today. It's warm in the sun with a little breeze, and there are flowers everywhere. Peony, foxglove, lupine, poppy, columbine and coral bells are just a few perennials in bloom. We have container gardens of various sizes for sale, perfect for Memorial Day, or brightening up your porch or deck. Stop by soon, some varieties are selling out!

Asparagus Season!

History and Nutrition

The brief season of our first vegetable is full of enthusiastic fans, and for good reason! Asparagus has been enjoyed as far back as 3000 B.C, as documented in an Egyptian frieze. Beloved by kings, early physicians, and ancient epicureans alike, asparagus has a lot to offer the modern vegetable eater! 4-5 grams protein and 3 grams of fiber per cup, an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6, not to mention it's high rating on a scale of deliciousness. Grilled, satueed, steamed, boiled, roasted, or broiled asparagus is delicious with just about anything. Beef, chicken, eggs, salads, pasta... The flavor of asparagus pairs especially well with garlic, rosemary, tarragon, thyme and lemon.

Try this simple recipe!

  • Cut 1 pound of fresh, rinsed, Kirbygrown asparagus into even pieces.
  • Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a pan on medium.
  • Add one clove of fresh, minced garlic and saute briefly, then toss in your asparagus.
  • Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the asparagus is crisp tender. (My asparagus of medium thickness was done in 8 minutes.)
  • Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt or to taste, and serve! I recommend a garnish of chive flowers or purple violas.

Variation: Toss with the juice of 1/2 a lemon.

Storage and Peparation Tips:

  1. It's best to use asparagus within a few days of purchasing to get full flavor and nutritional benefits.
  2. To store asaparagus, wrap the ends in wet paper towel and then put the entire bunch in a plastic bag. You want to contain a little moisture so the stalks don't get dried out.
  3. Asparagus loves growing in the sandy soil of our Ridge Road farm, so make sure you rinse it well to avoid crunching on grains of sand.
  4. Break off the white woody end before cooking to remove the fibrous part of the plant that grows under the soil.

More recipes to come!

Field Update 5/9/11

Peaches - Our early peach varieties are in full bloom right now! When you drive by the farm you'll see rows of cloudy pink - those are the peaches and they smell fantastic. Peaches won't be ready until July, but Spring is still a crucial time of year for our peach crop.  A hard frost wiping out thousands of peaches is a very real danger through the month of May, which would mean the end to delicious Kirbygrown peaches for 2011. How can you tell if it gets too cold? The morning after a cold break Mr. Kirby will go out to the orchard and open up a blossom. If the center is black, the fruit has been killed. This is also true of strawberry blossoms. As of this moment our peach crop is looking great - let's hope Mother Nature is kind this season!

Asparagus - On a hot day you can practically watch the asparagus grow. This cold wet Spring we've had so far has slowed it down. Our first picking came in last week but it will be a few days before we pick again. If you're planning to come by for asparagus before the weekend, call ahead to be sure we have it in. We also take orders by phone, which is always a good idea for large quantities (asparagus freezes and pickles well). Check our facebook page for updates!

Rhubarb - we'll be picking some nice big stalks this weekend. Rhubarb pie anyone? Or sauce! Yum.

Spinach & Beets - if we continue to get warm sunshine for a while (cross your fingers!) we'll have spinach and beets in two weeks.