One of the coolest things about visiting farms that are participating in the RAFT Heirloom Vegetable Grow-Out is the opportunity to bring restaurant folks (chefs, cooks, managers, wait staff…) along for the trip.  When I was at Red Planet Vegetables just outside Providence, RI, I was accompanied by Justin and Brian (Sous chef and cook, respectively) from Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro in Foxboro, MA and Kristin (co-owner/manager) from Chez Pascal in Providence, RI.

Matt and Catherine, the owners/entire staff of Red Planet, cheerfully showed us around their acre+ farm, pointing out lots of the great RAFT Grow-Out vegetables they’re growing as well as other exciting vegetable varieties.  There were lots of oooohs and ahhhhs, as there is when you get together two groups of people who are obsessed with food (farmers and chefs).

Matt noted later that he’s always impressed with how respectful restaurant folks are when they come to visit.  It makes a lot of sense that they would be.  Chefs Collaborative member chefs are part of the enlightened minority of the restaurant industry that have realized excellent food is dependent on carefully sourced, amazing products first.  Culinary skills are obviously also very important, but the chefs’ artistry is limited or magnified by the quality of his/her raw ingredients.  Chefs visiting a farm like Red Planet are like pianists in a Steinway piano store.  There was a palatable excitement in the air regarding each Boston Marrow squash hiding under spiny leaves or Wethersfield red onion nestled in the ground, and their potential for future expressions of culinary artistry.  It made my mouth water just being there to witness it.

–          Anne Obelnicki, RAFT Grow-Out Project Coordinator

Here are some photos from my visit:

Catherine cuts a Boothby’s Blond Cucumber for all to try:


Growing in the field there are beautiful Winningstadt Cabbages


… and Wetherfield Red Onions:


Matt explains his tomato trellis system to the visitors:


Red Planet Farmers – Catherine Mardosa and Matt Tracy:


A beautiful almost-ready Boston Marrow Squash: