Nigel and Frances Walker dominate the south east corner of the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market every Saturday and they're one of the few vendors that have their own website about their operations and a comprehensive list of their produce.
A "Super" Market Stand
Shopping at their stand is like "going to the super market" and it's always a busy place. On 17 acres and with a crew of 3 helpers, Frances and Nigel grow at least 40 different types of vegetables and lettuces, all the usual herbs and some selected flowers. Though they tend not to go in for the "boutique" varieties of vegetables, you can always find what's on your shopping list at their stand. Even though they're already noted for being among the best organic farmers in Northern California, Nigel says he concentrating on improving his growing techniques to improve production and yields.
Tomatoes Are a Specialty
Tomatoes are a specialty of Eatwell and are featured on their home page. At the end of March, the Walkers completed the planting of 9,000 plants so the coming tomato season (July - October) should be a bountiful one. (During the tomato season, our standard Saturday lunch at home, after a morning at the Ferry Plaza Market, is a thick slice of Acme or Metropolis sourdough bread, toasted and rubbed with a clove of fresh garlic, then smothered with thickly sliced tomatoes still warm from the Market, drizzled with Sciabica's olive oil and topped with a generous dusting of sea salt. FANTASTIC!!)
Every Saturday of the Year
Many vendors don't have produce to bring to the Market during the winter months. But the location of Eatwell's farm in the Sacramento Valley and the wide range of crops they grow, enable them to harvest every week of the year, even during the low months of January, February and March. They're reliable, always offer excellent quality and they're personally enthusiastic about what they grow and sell. No matter what time of year, their stand is beautifully arranged with clusters of seasonal produce.
Special Items Worth Mentioning
Tucked among the standards, I've found a few gems that are noteworthy:
* Green garlic: Eatwell is one of the few growers that sells green garlic. Unfortunately, it's available for only a very brief period of time from February-May. I have a particular passion for green garlic because of its light and sweet garlic perfume. But I have only one recipe that uses green garlic, Green Garlic Soup, and by the end of green garlic season, we're ready to retire the recipe for another year.
* Tomatoes: Eatwell has a fantastic assortment of heirlooms and hard-to-find varieties. Nigel estimates that they'll produce about 10 tons in the 1996 season. When tomatoes are in season, there is a "tomato frenzy" around the Eatwell stand. During the tomato season, which starts June, I make Eatwell the first stop on my shopping tour to be sure I can get the best selection. By 10:00 am the tomatoes are largely sold out.
* Flowers: When Eatwell's flowers are blooming, they are displayed in profusion in front of the stand. Their specialties include:
Paper white narcissus
(January - March)
(April - May)
* Herbs: In addition to all the standards, Eatwell offers beautiful bunches of lemon basil and purple basil available from May - September. I treat these specialty basil as a lettuce and mix the whole leaves into a green salad for color and flavor accents.
* Rutabagas: Eatwell is one of the few growers to offer this under-appreciated vegetable. The season is November - February. Rutabagas are a light alternative to potatoes and can be treated in the same way. I boil them whole with a few whole garlic cloves and then mash the rutabagas together with the cooked garlic.
Eatwell's Produce Available ThroughWeekly CSA
CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) has developed a program which enables farmers to sell their organic produce directly to consumers. A 1/2-bushel basket, filled with enough fresh vegetables and fruit to feed 2 - 4 people, is delivered to members in their neighbrohood area each week. The contents vary, depending on the season:
|Four -week Trial Period||$68|
For information on how to enroll, contact Nigel or Frances Walker at Eatwell Farms.
Saturday Market Home Page
To contact the vendor, please use information at the top of this page.
For this recipe you'll need 2 bunches (6-8 stalks) of green garlic: