Tag Archives: tomatoes

by Zoë Abram

We’ve all been to a workshop today at the Seed Farm, an incubator farm in the Lehigh Valley. We’re back and ready to rest before tomorrows harvest, full of new ideas and inspiration and having had some great conversations with other people excited about farming vegetables on a small scale. We saw some really cool equipment useful specifically at a scale similar to ours. We also heard about the Seed Farm’s model which encourages young people to start their own farms by providing a supportive structure starting with one year of training and followed with an opportunity to rent land, greenhouse and walk-in space, and equipment at low rates. I feel, as always, so grateful to be doing this work and part of a growing number of people interested in growing food for their communities using responsible, regenerative practices.

This week I wanted to share an article and a recipe with you. Both of these things, the inspiring one and the delicious one, are in my mind right now as part of how lucky I feel to be part of this work. The article is by Josh Volk, a farmer and writer in Oregon whose writing always makes me to think more deeply about growing food, especially about CSA. I find it important and helpful to check in about how other farmers are thinking about the work they do and the way they conceptualize the CSA model. This article talks about the differences Josh finds between growing for CSA and growing for market. Some of it mirrors our experience and some of it is different, but I hope it can serve as a good access point for thinking about the role this CSA plays in your lives and also gives you more information about how important it is to the grower and the way growing food happens. Here is the article:

This recipe is from the most recent Colchester Cooking Class, with Beth Rocca.  This was the first class I attended here, and I was so impressed! I learned a few key things that made me more confident and gave me a broader range of ideas for things to do with Colchester produce. This recipe is for a tomato vinaigrette. The dressing is that beautiful orange color that fire-roasted tomato soup turns. It feels rich but it has only tomatoes, herbs, salt, vinager and oil in it. I hope you like it as much as I do!

Tomato Vinaigrette
10-15 plum tomatoes — Quartered and seeds removed  (When we made it in cooking class we didn’t use plum, we used normal red tomatoes and it worked great!)
quarter cup salt
1 shallot
1 clove garlic.
half teaspoon pepper
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups olive oil

Place tomatoes and salt in a colander and let sit a few hours or overnight to draw out moisture and acidity. Rinse excess salt from tomatoes. tomatoes. Puree in the blender with remaining ingredients. (We also added basil to the blender, and a very small amount of onion … maybe one slice of onion. You can also add a small amount of garlic.) Strain and chill.

by Zoë Abram

Tomato time is here again! Before we even harvested any tomatoes, we’d spent a lot of time with the plants. We trellis the tomatoes, wrapping twine around stakes placed every two plants and tightly binding the tomatoes to force them to grow upright. We also “sucker” the tomatoes, which means pruning the side-shoots that appear in the crotch between main stem and leaves. If you let the suckers grow, the new stem competes for nutrients with the original plants: you may see more fruit, but the plant will struggle to ripen them all. Suckering also allows for more air to circulate, which prevents disease. Suckering is especially important for indeterminate varieties of tomatoes that will grow bushier and too heavy for their trellises if left alone.

These regular tasks mean we spent much of spring and early summer watching and waiting for the first tomatoes to ripen. It’s amazing how different the foliage of each variety looks before the different tomato colors and shapes are evident. Unlike many newer and hybrid varieties of tomatoes which were bred for thick skins and easy transport, heirloom tomatoes were bred for unique taste and appearance characteristics.  I’m continually amazed by heirloom tomatoes once they ripen, by the taste differences and the gnarled brown cat-faces and the sheer diversity of appearance.

In the pick-ups, you’ll notice some of these varieties appearing. This past week you may have seen some of the Cherokee Purple. They are a deep, dusky color, but they might have green shoulders even when ripe. We’ve also been picking the first Prudens Purple, a pinkish tomato and Goldie, which is yellowish orange and sometimes as big as the palm of my hand. We’re also growing a Ukranian red slicing tomato called Cosmonaut Volkov. The seed catalogue describes them as a “perfect blend of sweet and tart” and I agree! There are a few more varieties to look forward to: we’re just beginning to see ripe Green Zebra and Striped German!

Some varieties are doing better than others. We’re seeing a lot of blossom-end rot on the more oblong, dense, San Marzano Paste tomatoes. Blossom-end rot happens when plants have trouble uptaking sufficient calcium from the soil and also transferring it through the plant. We’re picking off these tomatoes early, hoping the plants will recover and produce fully ripened tomatoes unencumbered.

There’s so much to say about these tomatoes. Everyone has their own opinion about taste and the perfect ripeness. Along with the heirlooms, we also grow some irresistible hybrids: for example, there’s no better sweetness to me than a bright orange Sun Gold cherry tomato. We hope in your share you enjoy exploring the different tomatoes! Let us know what you find!