Hot for Heirlooms

By Claire Hoppens, Photography by Catherine Murray

Dragon Carrots, one of Adam Welly's favorite heirloom varieties they grow at Wayward Seed Farm. 

Along with Adam Welly's favorite heirloom vegetable varieties, we asked the other GRO farmers at Great River Organics what they love and grow. Ask about these different varieties next time you see them at the farmers markets. Read more about the heirloom varieties grown by Adam Welly at Wayward Seed in our summer issue.

Ben & Lisa Sippel, Sippel Family Farm

"We do grow some heirloom tomatoes, but tend not to grow other crops with heirloom varieties.  Our favorite heirloom tomatoes are Speckled Roman and Green Zebra.”

Ben Dilbone, Sunbeam Family Farm

"Our main heirloom varieties are tomatoes. Twelve varieties. Favorites are Pineapple and Cherokee Purple, but we try new ones every year to keep it exciting.” Ben also grows:  Ancient Sweet Pepper, Early Wonder Beets, Listada de Gandia Eggplant, Toscano Kale, Red Express Cabbage, Boothby Blonde Cukes, and Laurentian Rutabagas.

Becky Barnes, Dangling Carrot Farm

"I grow over 70 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Personally, I enjoy the black/purple tomatoes the best for flavor. Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple are my absolute favorites. But I also grow an array of reds, pinks, yellows, greens, oranges, yellows, and striped. Speckled Roman is a variety that draws a lot of attention from customers because of its oblong shape and striped coloration (red and yellow). I like to grow a nice variety of cherry tomatoes, too. The customers' standout request is Sun Gold, but I like Sun Peach the best for its color and taste.

I like growing small sweet peppers, including Jimmy Nardello, a sweet frying pepper in the Slow Food Ark of Taste.

Every year I save my garlic seed (German Extra Hardy) back for planting. A lot of people comment on its unique, strong flavor.

And I love growing miniature eggplant: Hansel (purple), Gretel (white) and Fairytale (speckled).

Lastly, my favorite vegetable to grow is arugula. I don't always have success because it's a bit temperamental and bugs enjoy it if not properly covered when growing. But half the time it grows perfectly, and it is worth the struggle. I love the aroma that wafts as I cut it. I love eating it. Lots of customers share my deep admiration for it as well."

Rossa di Milano onions from Wayward Seed Farm.

Rossa di Milano onions from Wayward Seed Farm.