Holding up a Wethersfield Red onion, farmer Chris Kantlehner announces, “We wouldn’t have this vegetable without RAFT!” The Wethersfield Red onions are just one of the heirloom varieties included in this year’s heirloom Grow-Out. Chris and co-farmer Christy Raymond are growing the onions plus a myriad of other vegetables, herbs, and flowers, both heirloom and standard varieties, at White Barn Farm in Wrentham, MA. The farmers hosted a Farm Field Day for RAFT Grow-Out chefs to come visit and see the produce at its very freshest- out in the field.
Joining in the tour were chef Gregory Griffie from 606 Congress in Boston and chef Matt Maue from Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro in Foxboro, MA. As Chris, Christy, and their intern Meg showed us around the farm, we got to sample all kinds of goodies, from fennel blossoms (sweet and licorice-flavored) to baby green beans to the very first of the Sungold tomatoes (YUM!).
We also got to see several of the RAFT heirloom vegetable varieties growing in the fields. The Speckled Trout, or Forellenschuss, lettuces look beautiful, and another round of little Speckled Trout lettuce seedlings are just about ready to take their place after the first ones are harvested. The Wethersfield Red onions are starting to take on their characteristic flattened shape. And everyone is eagerly anticipating the day the gorgeous Jimmy Nardello peppers will turn red. Despite the dry weather, the crops look absolutely fantastic.
After the tour, we all were given some free samples of zucchini to take home, and the chefs chatted with the White Barn Farmers about upcoming menu plans for their restaurants. There was even some talk about holding a pig roast at White Barn Farm later this summer, with food prepared by Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro- more info to come!