Lee Welty is a partner in Barbour Fruit Farms in Biglerville, Pa. You may see him every week at the Highlandtown Farmers Market, selling peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, apples—whatever is in season.
But fruit isn’t all he has. The first week in July he had sweet corn, string beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and other vegetables. “The vegetables are the easy part,” he says. “The fruit takes some worry.”
Take the apples that Barbour Fruit Farms grows in its 141-acre orchard, just a little smaller than Patterson Park. Pennsylvania apple growers have been beset by apple scab, a fungus that causes brown, crusted spots on the fruit. So far, Welty says, Barbour’s has spent $20,000 to fight the fungus, which can affect orchards throughout the mid-Atlantic, from the Carolinas to New York.
But the Early Golds he brought to the Highlandtown Farmers Market on the fifth of July were pristine, lovely light green medium apples with a little tartness to them. Welty says they make a wonderful Apple Crisp, but they would also be good for applesauce, pie or just eating out of hand if you like a tart apple.
Coming later in the season are the sweet apples--Gala, Delicious, Fuji and more.
Next to some plump blackberries are the peaches, a darker red than most, large and heavy with juice.
“Those are a prize,” says Welty. “We haven’t had much rain this year and that concentrates the sweetness of the peach.”
Sure enough, the peaches taste very—well, “peachy.” They are also juicy, so you might want to lean over the sink to eat one.
Welty answered one more question as he took care of the customers crowded around his stall.
“My pap had two daughters,” said the third-generation fruit farmer. “So the Barbour name didn’t transplant.”
To celebrate the opening of our too-short peach season, here’s a recipe for peach cobbler that has been making the rounds of church socials and family reunions for decades—maybe even a century or more, courtesy of a pal at Homewood Friends Meeting.
Perfect Peach Cobbler
3 cups sliced peaches (about three large)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup self-rising flour (be sure to use self-rising, not all-purpose flour)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp ginger (optional, but good)
6 tbsp melted butter
Place sliced peaches in baking dish and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix flour, sugar and egg until lumpy and spread over peaches. (Trust these directions even though it looks funny at this point.) Pour melted butter over top and bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.