Sunday, August 19, 2007

Give Me The Good Earth

"Give me the good earth to rest my mind on, Give me the rainfall that fills empty stream, Give me the life in the hills and the meadows, Give me the seasons all the changes they bring."

Good things continue to grow at Gravity Hill and David is as busy as ever. In addition to the market in Lawrenceville, NJ on Sunday mornings, David is now doing a second market Thursdays from 3-7PM in New Hope, Pa. This is a first year market, and though David wasn't able to participate at the markets inception, he is excited to now be a participant. So, now there are two opportunities to purchase the great produce of Gravity Hill Farm. If you are able to come to either of the markets, make it a point to say hello. David loves to extol the virtues of his produce.

In general, lettuce and salad mix do not do well as a hot weather crop. Despite this, David has managed to have some lettuce and salad mix throughout the summer. As the weather begins to cool he will again have an increasing amount of both. Spinach and arugula will be making a reappearance after an absence of the past few weeks. The cucumber and summer squash plants have produced in great abundance. They are, however, reaching the end of their season. One of the upsides of a local, sustainable farmers' market is that you get produce that is fresh and delicious. One of the downsides is that the availability of stuff is limited to the lifespan of the specific variety of plant. However, that's why coming to a farmers' market is such an adventure, you never know what you are going to find.

At market on Sunday, August 19 the available items included: onions, carrots, fingerling potatoes, Swiss chard, beets (golden and bulls blood), Asian eggplant, Hungarian hot peppers, cilantro, basil, beans, summer squash (patty pans, zephyrs, zucchini, yellow zucchini, and magda), some lettuce and salad mix, and purple peppers (like a green pepper only purple in color). {Pictures of most of these will follow.} And TOMATOES. Not just any old tomato, but many varieties of what are known as heirloom tomatoes as well as red cherry tomatoes and a specialty cherry tomato named sun gold.

At Gravity Hill David is growing some 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. [In the next blog I will list some of the varieties. Their names are as unique as their appearance and taste. For those not familiar the following info about heirlooms is offered. The term is used for a variety of vegetables and is not limited to tomatoes. The description comes from Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening- Heirloom plants are those whose seeds come from plants grown in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. Heirloom plants are not suited to large-scale production because they cannot be harvested mechanically or transported long distances to market. Many heirloom crops taste better or are more tender than hybrid replacements. (FYI- hybrids are what are most commonly sold in supermarkets. They are developed to be mass marketed. You are encouraged to do a taste comparison between what you get at a store and what you can get at a local farmers' market. There is very little comparison. Store bought tomatoes do not compare to heirloom tomatoes.) Apart from taste, heirloom plants represent a vast and diverse pool of genetic characteristics, one that will be lost forever if these plants are allowed to become extinct.

When you eat an heirloom you are connected to the past and the present. When you eat local you are connected to your community and helping to preserve the culture and heritage that is part of the history of your community. Support your local farmer. Get to know your local farmer. Get to know and better appreciate where your food is coming from.

One last thing before pictures. There was an article in todays' New York Times about farmers' markets. If interested in reading the article go to:

Happy and healthy eating to all.

Yes, these are all tomatoes; heirloom tomatoes- even the yellow and orange ones. A future post will describe some of the multitude of heirloom tomatoes that David has. He is growing upwards of 20 varieties. Oh, what you can't tell from the picture is that the yellow ones have a peach like fuzz.

Sun gold cherry tomatoes (on the left) are one of the great treats of summer. To give you an idea- last year a young child, about 5, was eating a donut and came to the table with his mom. He sampled a sun gold and then stood there eating the tomatoes, the donut in his hand all but forgotten. Last week at the New Hope market someone who had bought three pints of the sun golds the previous week bought seven pints! Wow! The bright red cherry tomatoes were the equal of the sun golds. This isn't heaven, it's Gravity Hill Farm.

Asian eggplants. They tend to be sweeter than regular eggplant. If you buy them you should use them as soon as possible.

A variety of bell pepper named 'islander'. Taste is very similar to that of the regular green pepper. However, sometimes one of the fun things about eating is the appearance of your food. Add a little color to your salad, saute, or casserole.

These are a variety of beet known as 'bulls blood'. According to information at Seedsavers Exchange the juice from the beets is used to make the only red food coloring allowed by Swedish law. It is a sweet tasting beet.

Does not bleed like the traditional Red Ace beets that are what people most often think of when they think beets. Tends to be sweet and tender. Another change of pace when it comes to appearance.

If you like potatoes, you'll love these fingerling potatoes. While it might be hard to tell from the picture, they are smaller in size, and in fact many look like fingers. What makes them special, apart from their size, is their taste and texture. They tend to be more tender and creamy than the typical potato. You can roast, grill, boil, or roast them.

This is a basket of spring salad mix. David has six different types of lettuce in his mix. The greens are cut when they are younger/smaller. This allows them to be more tender and sweeter to the taste.

Remember, get to know your local farmers. Support local agriculture. When you go to a farmers' market, talk to the farmer. Ask questions. Get to know the food you eat.

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