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French Orange melon

Flavor Rules

by Linda Halley, General Manager | This past week Gwenyn Hill Farm hosted the Kettle Moraine Garden Club. There’s so much to say about what we do here and why. I have to narrow my messaging so we don’t feel like we are in a graduate-level lecture with a test at the end. I like to create a conversation, a place where we can share, especially since the group consisted of avid, experienced gardeners. So, after a brief overview of what it means to farm organically, I launched into one of my favorite topics about what we do here. We farm for flavor.

As we wandered through the picking garden, we tasted the amazing snack peppers and “grazed” the long trellis of cherry tomatoes. Each successive variety seemingly sweeter than the previous one. I was glad to share our tried and true seed sources: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, High Mowing Organic Seeds,  and Seed Savers Exchange, to name a few. Frankly, one of the most satisfying aspects of growing vegetables is the opportunity to introduce someone to a truly special, tasty variety that they will never forget. Carmen peppers, long, deep red and thick-fleshed, stop me in my tracks. French Orange cantaloupes, unassuming, the size of a slow-pitch ball, create avid fans, who swear they don’t even care for melons. Now they can’t get enough.

When Laurel and I were invited to participate in a University of Wisconsin research project about flavor, we jumped. This Capital Times article focuses on the chef participants in the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, SKC: Building the Perfect Beet 

Laurel and I know SKC from the farmer side. Dr. Julie Dawson distributes seeds from vegetable varieties she is studying to several dozen market farmers. Each grows them out under their own conditions. Eventually they are graded and compared for many traits, but primarily for flavor. Unlike breeders that focus on commercial production with the demands of machine harvest and long distance transportation, Dr. Dawson concerns herself with the kind of vegetables that taste great. What better reason than flavor to get you out of the house on a summer morning and down to the farmers market.  

Farm to Flavor Dinner InformationYou can get in on this celebration of better breeding at the annual Farm to Flavor dinner. Laurel and I will be there to enjoy the successes and discoveries of the season. Follow the link to find out more. It is open to the public: Seed to Kitchen Collaborative

We hope we see some familiar faces there.

Photo used with permission of Seed to Kitchen Collaborative.

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