Russo's News

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Farmer in Focus:

This week we had a wonderful visit to Plainville Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts. Wally Czajkowski, 62, has been farming this land for more than 50 years (do the math - he started working very young!). Wally’s grandfather, an immigrant from Poland, began the farm in the early 1900s.

At Russo’s we receive assorted vegetables from Plainville Farm throughout the year. Wally grows a mix of conventional and organic products on 250 acres, including broccoli, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, beans, asparagus and tobacco (we don’t carry tobacco at Russo’s).

 Wally Czajkowski in his field of (delicious!) spaghetti squash.

Wally Czajkowski in his field of (delicious!) spaghetti squash.


One of Wally’s favorite products is asparagus. Historically, Hadley has been known for its incredible asparagus, but several decades ago, a soil-born disease destroyed the asparagus crops. Today, there are many asparagus varieties grown which resist this soil issue and farmers like Wally can grow incredible asparagus in this fertile region.


“Asparagus is the first sign of spring,” he said. “It’s a vegetable full of eternal hope. It comes up, and we cut it off. It comes up, and we cut it off. How’s that for determination? It continues that way for six weeks. And it tastes so good.”

 Asparagus planted for next spring. Wally said it looks beautiful during the winter when it is covered in frost.

Asparagus planted for next spring. Wally said it looks beautiful during the winter when it is covered in frost.


Wally showed us around his farm, pointing out the asparagus which is already planted for next spring. He spoke eloquently about photosynthesis and preparation for the spring harvest (but due to our lack of understanding plant science, we were slightly confused).

In today’s economy, Wally said that it can be challenging for young farmers to purchase enough land to make a living. He said that young farmers could buy less acreage and focus on organic farming, which generally pays more per acre. “That’s the way to go,” he said.

Tony Russo speaks highly of Wally’s excellent products which we enjoy at our store.

At Russo's this week, we have locally grown apples, tomatoes and eggplant. See more of our specials here!

To see more photos and videos of Wally at Plainville Farm, our Russo’s products and “Tony Tips” by Tony Russo, follow us:

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Twitter @russosproduce

Facebook RussosProduce

Have a wonderful weekend! Thanks for reading!

 The final crop of broccoli of this season at Plainville Farm in Hadley.

The final crop of broccoli of this season at Plainville Farm in Hadley.

Russo's News + Specials

Thank you for signing up for our Russo's News + Specials newsletter! Use your special subscriber code of AUGUST1020 for $5 off a purchase of $50 and $10 off a purchase of $100 thru August 17 (Monday-Friday only).

This week we had a wonderful visit with Susan Macone and Anthony J. Rogers at Macone Farm in Concord! Macone Farms sells its fresh cut flowers, award-winning tomatoes and other vegetables like butternut squash exclusively to Russo’s.

Susan grew up on the farm but after college worked two full time jobs - as both a software engineer and a farmer. She retired from software engineering in 2005 and has focused on the farm ever since.

About five years ago, Susan started to grow cut flowers. Her colorful rows are full of zinnias, celosia, snapdragons and more.

“There is so much competition for farming tomatoes and vegetables, but not many people are doing cut flowers and I enjoy doing the cut flowers,” she said. “I do it because I enjoy it.”

Susan walked us through her rows of tomatoes, handing us one delicious variety after another. She has several varieties including chocolate tomatoes (which do taste like chocolate!), Sunpeach (which are delicious!) and her famous Sungold won Best in Massachusetts!

Tony Russo asked when the amazing tomatoes will arrive at Russo's. The answer is...today!

Macone Farm is not a certified organic but Susan said she does not spray anything on her 12-acre farm.

“To me, this is my backyard garden and you don’t spray where you live.” Plus, she added, “I’m the one picking and I don’t want spray where I pick.” She said she is okay with the fact that her seasons may run shorter than others because bugs or blight get her crops. It is safer that way, she explains. “If the bugs eat ‘em, that means you can eat ‘em,” she said.

At Russo's this week, we have locally grown tomatoes, eggplant and corn. See more of our specials here!

Have a wonderful weekend! Thanks for reading!

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Twitter @russosproduce

Facebook RussosProduce

 

 Susan Macone in her field of flowers.

Susan Macone in her field of flowers.

 Macone Farm tomatoes for Russo's 

Macone Farm tomatoes for Russo's 

 Locally grown eggplants at Russo's 

Locally grown eggplants at Russo's 

Russo's Food News + Specials

Thank you for subscribing to our Russo's Newsletter. Use this special subscribers code Russos1020 at the checkout for a discount of $5 off a purchase of $50 and $10 off a purchase of $100 now thru July 31 (Monday thru Friday only).

This week we introduce you to our love for local blueberries. Here at Russo’s, we have a special not-so-secret extra love for Kelso Homestead Farm blueberries which have just arrived at our store from Chester, Massachusetts! 

"They pick them at the perfect time, every time, which is really hard to do in our business," said Tony Russo.

We wait all year for this perfect part of the summer when these special blues become available. Kelso Homestead Farm was established in 1779 by the family of Jim Gilman who is the 9th generation of his family to grow these blueberries. Russo's has a longstanding relationship with Kelso Homestead Farm and has been selling these blueberries for more than 40 years!

We recently spoke with one of Kelso Homestead's newest growers, 15-year-old Tommy Engwer, who works with his father Tom Engwer on the Kelso Homestead Farm. Tommy said the recent rain followed by warm days has been terrific for the blueberries this year.

“We have seven different varieties of blueberries at the farm,” said Engwer. “The sweet ones are very large and about the size of a half dollar. There are smaller ones if you want the more sour flavor.”

It is fortunate that Tommy works on a blueberry farm because “they are my favorite fruit!” he said.

Russo's has Kelso Homestead Blueberries available now and the farm is open for Pick-Your-Own blueberries.

Below is our latest Tony Tip on local blueberries, plus some photographs of Kelso Homestead Farm.

Also at Russo's this week, we have a special arrival of fig trees and a new Tony Tip all about them!

 

 Tommy Engwer at Kelso Homestead Farm

Tommy Engwer at Kelso Homestead Farm

 Tommy Engwer in the blueberry fields at Kelso Homestead Farm

Tommy Engwer in the blueberry fields at Kelso Homestead Farm

 Fig Trees have arrived at Russo's!

Fig Trees have arrived at Russo's!

Russo's Food News + Specials

This week we wanted to introduce you to one of our favorite farms, The Buckle Farm in Unity, Maine. Owners Jim and Hannah are a very hard-working husband and wife team who grow beautiful organic products.

Here is our First Farmer Interview

Russo’s: What is your favorite product to grow and why?

The Buckle Farm: We love to grow Snap and Shell Peas, Potatoes, Flowers, Tomatoes, Carrots, Garlic, Winter Squash and a wide variety of onions. These are our biggest plantings on the farm, we enjoy them because we all work hard on them together. Planting, harvest wash and pack require a full team to get them to market. Team spirit is high during the working of these crops and we can really see the fruits of our labor! Often they are the crops most enjoyed by our customers and that always makes it great.

Russo’s: What is the hardest part about farming in Maine? What are the hardest products to grow?

The Buckle Farm: The hardest part of farming in Maine is the lack of local markets for all the food being grown up here. We have one of the fastest growing populations of young and new farmers. While the land here is affordable and the support it very strong, it is still not enough to sustain all the farms in the state. The shorter season is a challenge, but there is so much research on season extension and seed varieties for Maine. This research has allowed small farms like ourselves to be more successful.  

Russo’s: How does your work get separated out and who is in charge of what?

The Buckle Farm: The work is done by a team of 5. Hannah and Jim do all the planning and coordinating the business needs, Along with the harvesting, and managing the fields. We do less of the weeding and picking these days but still spend a good amount of time with our hands in the dirt. Frances, Ryan and Max are the field hands. They do most of the dirty work and almost anything on the farm. This winter we did three farm planning workshops with them to include everyone as much as possible. We do not put people in change of any one specific task and have a morning meeting everyday to list out the tasks and assign them to the crew as a group. We keep a rotation of jobs so no one feels too burdened by something they do not enjoy. This also keeps us all learning throughout the summer.  

Russo’s: The Russo family members are huge animal lovers. How important is it for you to have a farm dog?

The Buckle Farm: Lemmy the farm dog is the real boss and we love having her here on the farm. She has a few specific jobs on the farm one of which is keeping the ground hog population down. Her natural instinct as a Blue Heeler is to heard and protect, so she spends a good amount of time with our pigs watching them and moving them up and down the fence lines. Lemmy loves our crew and greets them all as they come in the barn each morning and for lunch, we think she is trained to know they are eating in the morning and there are crumbs to grab! Her sweetness is the best, she can tell when you are having a bad day and makes you feel better. She like to chase a ball and would keep you for hours if you let her.   

Russo’s: What makes you the most proud of your profession?

The Buckle Farm: It is honest work, work you can be proud of, people respect and is an important foundation to life. Delivering to our customers is when it all becomes worth it.  People smile when they see what we have grown them and enjoy the freshness and flavor of the products. We are proud that we employ three people, pay them well and support them at work all we can.  If we can spend the rest of our days on the farm with people who enjoy working here and growing food for people who enjoy it, we will have done something right.

Russo’s: How did you meet Tony Russo?

The Buckle Farm: I meet Tony Russo first in 2004 working managing Allandale Farm in Brookline. I was struck by just how much produce went through the warehouse and his passion for the products. When I moved on from Allandale he continued to buy what crops I had. He has certainly shaped how we have grown our farm, Tony's in-depth knowledge of produce, and sales has nudged us to grow more of certain crops and begin to really specialize in the wholesale market.

Russo’s: Where was your first farm located? Was it organic?

The Buckle Farm: The Buckle Farm was first started in Dighton, Massachusetts (2011) and we were there for two and a half years. We started the process of being certified there but did not farm long enough for the three-year waiting period to obtain certification. The farm then moved up to Unity, Maine, where we were able to obtain certification on some of the ground here and some ground we had leased. We are happy to say that the entire farming operation is certified organic. We get certified by The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), great organization and a place we volunteer our time. Our farm is limited in size, so we lease a few other fields around our neighborhood, putting more and more ground into organic production, MOFGA has been a huge help in getting this land into organic production. We are also very happy to say that our farm is in the Forever Farm program in the state of Maine. This ensures a future for our farm, keeping it from development and kept in agricultural production for eternity. Along with the organic rules we have many to follow in the Forever Farm program. Yearly inspections and long-term planning to ensure the future of this wonderful piece of land. We would not choose to farm any other way.

See the below photos of Jim and Hannah from The Buckle Farm, their wonderful farm dog Lemmy and Jim, Hannah and Tony Russo with their freshly-grown sunflowers which we carry at Russo's!

And if you have read all the way to the bottom of this page, we have a special for you! Encourage three of your friends to sign up for this newsletter and use the below coupon for a Special Newsletter Discount of $5 off of a $50 purchase or $10 off of $100 purchase anytime Monday-Friday thru July 31, 2018 at Russo's! Cut out the below coupon with our special code (or show it on your phone) and present it to a Russo's cashier for your discount!

Have a great weekend!

Russo's Food News + Specials

Happy Fourth of July! We love celebrating our nation's Independence Day with family and friends.

July is such a beautiful time of the year in New England and the harvesting of local crops has begun. We have already seen gorgeous Native Strawberries from Massachusetts and just after the holiday weekend, we will receive corn from one of our favorite farms in Connecticut! 

We know you have been waiting...and we are happy to announce that Sunflowers and Native Plants such as Native Flowering Raspberry Bushes and Native Hydrangeas are here! Is there a better indication that summer has arrived?

When you head to the beach this holiday, remember to bring healthy, delicious summer snacks such as grapes and peaches. And when you are a guest at a cookout, bring a gift to the host! Corn and watermelon are always appreciated...and see our latest "Tony Tip" below for another suggestion!

In case you missed them, here are this week's Specials

Tony Russo writes a newsletter to our wholesale customers each week about conditions and prices of the fruit and vegetable markets around the United States. Here is what he wrote about our eastern markets and what you can expect:

"The eastern vegetable markets are, if anything, interesting. Prices and product
availability seemingly change with cloud cover. Green Bean prices are on the rise
again bringing the whole Bean family with them. Green Pepper prices are about
the same, along with Cucumbers, Eggplant, and tender and hard Squash. The
Round Tomato markets are going up. Prices for east coast Tomatoes will
remain on the high side for a few more weeks. The eastern new crop of Potatoes
continues to be one of the highlights of the season. The domestic and Canadian
storage crops have been an excellent source of high quality, money saving
resources for months. Sadly, the season is coming to an end...The eastern fruit markets are now very, very, close to home. In fact, they are home as the season’s first few weekends of Strawberries are being harvested. The Blueberry crop is underway in New Jersey with the very predictable flurry of interest and high prices for the first weeks of harvesting. The Peach crop in the Carolina’s could not be any better. Prices remain on the high-side for larger sizes and much more reasonable for smaller sized fruit."

Have a wonderful holiday!

Russo's will be open on July 4th from 8am-4pm! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

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Russo's Food News + Specials

Summertime is definitely here and that means we have peaches at Russo's! Our delicious peaches come from Titan Farms in South Carolina. Titan Farms is considered one of the best peach growers in the country - and it is located close to where Tony Russo picked peaches when he was a child. See our "Tony Tip" below on these special peaches.

Our garden department receives shipments of plants every day - and this week we are enjoying a robust arrival of perennials from around New England! Take a look at our store this weekend.

Have you ever wondered how to make sure your plants stay bright and cheerful all summer long? Tony Russo's latest Tony Tip shows how vibrant flowers (like our Dahlias from Michael's Greenhouse in Cheshire, Connecticut) grow even better when you do something called "deadheading." Deadheading? Is that something you do at a @Deadandcompany concert? No! Check out our latest Tony Tip on deadheading below. Also, did you know that you can cut flowers to put in a vase from your Dahlia plant? And it actually helps the plants grow! Learn about this method in another Tony Tip below.

And in case you missed them earlier this week, here are our Russo's Specials:

Plants

Russo's fresh local and domestic imported plants and flowers arrive daily. Our products include hews, junipers, rhododendrons, Japanese Andromeda, boxwood, Japanese maple, herbs, perennials, annuals, planters, window boxes, hangers, organic soils, organic fertilizers, mulch and much more.

Organics

Russo's offers the freshest, highest quality and most affordable Organics available in the market.

Organic fresh cut local Red leaf, Green leaf and Romaine lettuce $1.98 each

Organic fresh crisp California broccoli $2.49 lb.

Fresh sweet organic strawberries 1lb. package $3.98 each

Produce

Native fresh-picked Massachusetts strawberries $5.98 quart

Fresh picked extra large Carolina peaches $1.98 lb.

Premium quality freshly harvested California cantaloupes $2.98 each

Fresh firm flavorful hot house and on the vine tomatoes $1.98 lb.

Fresh cut local Red leaf, Green leaf, Boston and Romaine lettuce $1.49 each

Pastificio

Truffle penne pasta $5.98

Bakery

Raspberry crostata $18.98 each

Peach galette $18.98 each

Traditional shortcake biscuits 6 for $4.98 each

Kitchen

Salmon burgers: tender and moist prepared with lettuce, tomato and mango salsa $7.98 each

Gold beet and fennel salad with diced gold beets and shaved fennel prepared with a honey champagne vinaigrette $7.98 lb.

Delicatessen

Pecorino al tartufo combining two heralded products to produce a superbly flavorful robust Italian cheese $19.98 lb.

Boerankaas the famous raw cow’s milk cheese from Holland  - the cheese the Dutch try to keep to themselves - some consider the perfect table cheese $12.98 lb.

Cara donna Virginia ham $7.98 lb.

Boston brisket co pastrami $11.98 lb.

Russo's Food News + Specials

Native Strawberries are here at Russo's! Our Native Strawberries are grown on small farms in western Massachusetts. Enjoy this exciting time of the late spring/early summer season! And it is no coincidence that we have homemade shortcake biscuits on special this week. Just add strawberries to the shortcake biscuits and you have a fun, easy, delicious dessert!

Corn has arrived in time for Father's Day! We drive to a Georgia farm several times a week to pick up this delicious fresh corn! As the summer progresses, the corn will be coming from our local farmers.

Our latest "Tony Tip" on melons is below! We also have a "Tony Tip" on rhubarb. Rhubard may be intimidating but Tony Russo explains how to choose the best ones! So take a look at the bottom of this newsletter for your Tony Tips

Here are our Specials thru June 17:

Organics

Russo's offers the freshest, highest quality and most affordable Organics available in the market.

Organic fresh crisp California broccoli $2.49 lb.

Organic Fresh jumbo white California  cauliflower $2.98 each

Organic Premium quality apples $1.89 lb.

Organic local red leaf, green leaf and romaine lettuce $1.98 each

Produce

Fresh extra fancy fresh picked Carolina peaches $2.49 lb.

Fresh firm flavorful on the vine and hot house beefsteak tomatoes $1.98 lb.

Fresh sweet California cantaloupes $2.98 each

Fresh cut local red leaf, green leaf, boston and romaine lettuce $1.49 each

Pastificio

Tomato basil penne…………………………………………………….$5.98 lb.

Bakery

Try our artisan, breads,  pastries and desserts

Raspberry Crosata $18.98 each

Rum baba $3.29 each

Shortcake biscuits 6 for $4.98

Kitchen

Tender flank steak sliced and dressed with chiffonade basil and balsamic $15.98 lb.

Barbecue spare ribs $10.98 lb.

Delicatessen

Honey bee goat gouda imported from Holland, slightly sweet cashew nutty flavor $11.98 lb.

Boerenkaas, the famous raw cow’s milk cheese from Holland - the cheese the Dutch try keep to themselves. Some consider this the perfect table cheese $12.98 lb.

Thumann’s hickory smoked turkey breast $10.49 lb.

Ferrarini mortadella with pistachio nuts imported from Italy $5.98 lb.

Spring Plants

Our fresh, local, domestic and imported plants arrive daily. Our products include fragrant Lilacs, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Mountain Laurel, Japanese Andromeda, Flowering Trees, Fragrant Floribunda Roses, Herbs, (Organic) Perennials, Annuals, Pollinator Plants, Vegetable Plants, Geraniums, Mandevilla, Hibiscus, Patio Planters, Window Boxes, Hangers, Organic Soils, Mulch and Much Much More!

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"Friends of Bees" + Pollinator-Friendly Plants at Russo's!

We are thrilled to announce that Russo's will host Friends of Bees and Garden in the Woods on Saturday, June 9!

Friends of Bees of Watertown will answer questions and provide information about Bees from 10am-4pm

Garden in the Woods will show their pollinator kits (and accept orders for them!) and answer questions about Pollinator-Friendly Plants from Noon-3pm.

We have just received a gorgeous new shipment of Pollinator-Friendly Plants at Russo's which are available for sale. The plants include Red Twig Dogwood, Sweetspire, Strawberries, Flowering Raspberries, Native Hydrangea, Grasses, Native Geraniums, Flowering Trumpet Honeysuckle and more! These are all Pollinator-Friendly and Pesticide-Free Plants!

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Welcome to our Updated Website!

Welcome to our updated Russo’s website! 

We hope you will enjoy taking a look at our products, photographs and a brief history of our family business. We have added some fun sections like “News at Russo’s,” which includes our favorite "Tony Tips" on how-to prepare popular and, perhaps, intimidating fruits and vegetables.

We have added a new online e-commerce section which will allow you to purchase select items at Russo’s and pick them up in our store (or our Russo's Tote which will ship to anywhere in the United States).

We also have two new ways to buy Russo's online:

BloomNation now delivers Russo’s flowers, arrangements and bouquets 

Mercato which delivers (almost) everything in our store! Mercato delivers a radius of up to 16 miles from Russo’s. Or you may order on Mercato to pick-up in our store. 

We are very excited about BloomNation and Mercato!

In addition to these changes, we also have a “Specials” section which will be emailed to you if you would like to continue to receive our emails.

Please take a look at our website www.russos.com. And send us comments if you have any! You may always email me directly at krusso@russos.com

Thank you!

Karen Russo

 We finished our website! HOORAY!

We finished our website! HOORAY!