There are a few things that I love about this place. First, I work with amazing people, both employees and clients, who make my days at the farm wonderful. Second, I get to bring my dog (and always give her a bath after our visit). And third, there is always something new to do. Kyle just can't help himself - he always needs a project.
Which brings me to the reason I'm blogging: We're now offering catering! To learn more about what it is we're doing here, I did a little Q & A with the boss. Check out his responses and our new catering menu below!
Q: What kind of events are you catering?
A: We're doing everything from business meetings, family/class reunions, parties, and company picnics to funerals and wakes to weddings.
Q: How long have you been in the food business?
A: About 10 years. Kyle started with a coffee shop in Lancaster and then moved to the farm, offering food during fall season. We're in our third summer of catering weddings and events on the farm. We serve parties of 20 people up to 300!
Q: What kind of food options do you have?
A: We have appetizers, pizza, and a variety of buffet options. Our most popular menu is our slow-smoked buffet. Texan barbecue-style pulled pork, brisket, and sausage with two sides - it's a hearty and delicious meal! You can check out all our menu options by clicking on the document below.
Q: What does your service look like?
A: We do drop-off service or staff attendants - depending on the type of your event and the size of your crowd. You can also elect to pick up. We have service options for all!
Q: How do I get more information/get in touch?
A: Check out our website or send Morgan an email at email@example.com.
There's a lot that happens behind the scenes at Vesperman Farms.
Fifteen years ago, the faces behind the farm numbered three: Bruce, Judy, and Kyle. During fall season, Bruce drove the tractor out to the pumpkin patch, Judy ran the ticket/retail counter, and Kyle bounced around as general handyman and do-anything guy. During those early years, the crowds were smaller, things ran a bit slower, and fall season had a very different feel than it does today.
It wasn't until 2007, about four years after fall season started, that the farm added its first non-family staff, whom Kyle calls their first "real" employee. A few years later when the farm hit its 10-year anniversary, Kyle added made-to-order food to the fall season experience, and the crowds - and the staff - got bigger. And just a few years ago with the construction of the new barn, the farm started operating year-round as an events venue.
Today the farm has about 60 fall season staff and 10 year-round employees. And our staff is amazing. They are all talented, hard-working, and fun people, and many of them work weekends and nights on top of school, other jobs, and family commitments. They care a lot about our customers and do everything in their power to make sure everyone a great day at the farm.
At this farm, we do a lot of what people call cross training. The staff here wears multiple hats on a daily basis: they work weddings and events; bake and deliver donuts and kettle corn for our fundraising program; drive folks out to the pumpkin patch, help plant strawberries and pumpkins; and work on various construction projects, like re-siding and painting old buildings and putting up windmills. This staff is always up for anything!
We ask a lot of our employees some days, especially when we have multiple events in the barn on one weekend. In just a couple of hours, a group of our staff transitioned the space from a ceremony to dining seating for our Pig Gig - check out the process below!
Although many of our last names aren't Vesperman, we are all a part of the Vesperman Farms family, and these friendly faces make the farm a fantastic place to work and enjoy.
This is a delicious snack that (shh...) I've even eaten for breakfast because it's almost like a scone and I'm a grown-up and can do what I want. :)
For the shortcake
2 Egg Yolks (hard boiled)
1⅓ c Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1¼ c Kosher Salt
3 Tbs Granulated Sugar
6 Tbs Butter (chilled)
⅔ c Heavy Cream
2 Tbs Sanding Sugar or Granulated Sugar (for sprinkling)
For the filling
1½ lbs Fresh Strawberries
¼ c Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Lemon Zest
1 pinch Kosher Salt
2 tsp Lemon Juice (divided)
1 c Heavy Cream
2 Tbs Powdered Sugar
For the shortcake
Preheat the oven to 300° (on low).
Combine the egg yolks, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in food processor and pulse until combined. Pulse in small chunks of the chilled butter until butter pieces are about pea-sized and incorporated throughout.
Add the cream and pulse 2 or 3 times to incorporate.
Remove dough from food processor and gently fold dough together to combine and mix in any dry spots. Do not over knead.
Using a ¼ scoop make 6 balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Don't flatten the dough.
Chill in the fridge until cold (about 20-25 minutes).
Take shortcakes out of fridge and brush with cream. Sprinkle sugar on top.
Bake about 20-28 minutes until golden and sides are firm to the touch. Cool before serving.
For the filling
Toss strawberries, sugar, lemon zest, and salt together in a medium bowl.
Put half of strawberries in sauce pan and add 1 tablespoon of water. Simmer over low heat until berries start to break down and become jammy and liquid is syrupy (about 12-18 minutes).
Cool. Once mixture is cool, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to the berries still left in the bowl.
Combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and pinch of salt in blender. Beat cream until soft peaks form.
Cut shortcakes in half. Add cooked strawberries, then raw strawberries, then the whipped cream to the bottom layer of cake. Top off with top layer of cake.
This sweet and simple pie is great for a dinner dessert, a family picnic, or (and we promise we won't tell) a delicious snack just 'cause.
For the crust
1 ½ c Flour
½ tsp Salt
2 Tbs Sugar
½ c Oil
2 Tbs Milk
For the filling
1 lb Fresh Strawberries (sliced)
1 c Sugar
3 Tbs Cornstarch
1 c Water
3 Tbs Strawberry Jell-O
2 Tbs Corn Syrup
For the crust
Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Pat mixture into the bottom of a pie pan to form the crust. Bake at 350° until crust is golden brown. Cool before adding filling.
For the filling
Layer berries in the pie crust until full (about 1 lb).
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and cornstarch into a small saucepan. Stir to combine. Add water and simmer until liquid begins to thicken. Add the Jello-O and corn syrup. Cook for a few minutes more until sauce is fully combined and thickened.
Remove from heat and pour mixture over berries. Cool the pie in fridge until fully chilled and thickened.
AND THE BEST STEP....Enjoy!
With the strawberry season now in full swing, we thought we'd share some of our frequently asked questions about picking berries.
When is the best time to pick?
Early in the morning when the berries are still cool and the sun hasn't had time to soften them or early evening when the sun is setting. Our hours reflect the best picking times: 7 a.m. - noon and 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. daily!
How long is the season?
It varies year-to-year, but usually 2-3 weeks around June. A lot of depends on how much heat and rain we get. We keep our website and Facebook page as up to date as possible on current patch conditions.
Why aren't you open in the middle of the day?
It's usually too hot and people don't want to pick in the heat. Also, the heat softens the berries, so they don't hold up in the containers as well as when they are cooler in the early and late day.
How can I tell which berries are ripe?
A fully ripe berry is all red, no green flesh and no white tip. Ripe berries are firm, not soft or mushy, and have a bright, shiny red color.
How do I pick berries?
The best way to hunt for the nicest berries are to get down and dirty. Use both hands, one to hold the branches and the other to pick the berries. Look under the leaves for the berries - some of the best ones are hiding right under your nose. When picking, keep the stems and hulls on the fruit. It helps keep the berries fresh longer.
What are the best picking practices for good berries?
Handle the fruits gently. Place them gently into the buckets - don't throw or toss them in. Try not to pile the berries too high in the basket or bucket as the bottom berries might be crushed. Take as many buckets as you'd like so you don't have to fill them too full. Don't squeeze the berries and handle them too much - this can cause bruising.
What should I look for when buying pre-picked berries?
Look for fragrant, red, and shiny berries that have a uniform color throughout. The berries should be firm and plump. If any leaves, stem, or hull are attached, these should be fresh and green (not browning or wilted). Stains on the container indicate overripe fruit. And it's always a good idea to buy berries by weight!
What are the best techniques for berry care?
Protect berries from the sun and heat as best you can. When home, sort through your berries and remove any overripe or molding berries. Refrigerate at 32°–40°F in loosely covered containers. Don't wash any berries until you are ready to eat or use them. Strawberries generally keep for 2 to 3 days in the fridge.
How should I freeze berries?
Wash the strawberries and remove any stems or leaves. Pat them dry with paper towels. If freezing individually (for use in smoothies, for example), you can either leave them whole or quarter them. Freeze them individually on cookie sheets and transfer to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag when frozen.
For a sweet treat to top cakes or swirl into yogurt or ice cream: Puree the berries in a blender or food processor. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar per quart of berries; gently stir until sugar dissolves. Spoon into freezer-safe containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Freeze up to 12 months.
What are your tips for canning?
We follow the Bell Canning Company's advice. Follow the link below for canning information: Ball Canning Company
Any questions? Drop them in the comments. Happy pickin' y'all!
Fun on the farm...in blog form!