Summer is rolling in and so are the spring and early summer veggies!  All of a sudden, ‘tis the season for for lettuce, peas, zucchini, beets, strawberries, and carrots.

Although the farmers markets are bustling and bountiful, we’re still waiting for many of the varieties in the RAFT Heirloom Grow-Out to come into season.  Most of the vegetables, including Trophy Tomatoes, Boston Marrow Squash, Long Pie Pumpkin, True Red Cranberry beans, and Oka Muskmelons, are later-season varieties.  For now the plants are in the ground, growing bigger and stronger, and setting flowers and fruits.

Boston Marrow Squash: little plants now, soon to be fat tasty squash!

As the vegetables grow, we are cooking up some delicious plans for the fall when they finally reach maturity.   During Heirloom Harvest Week, from September 20-26, participant chefs will feature heirloom vegetables on their menus.  Some of last year’s dishes included a slow-cooked heritage pork pot pie with True Red Cranberry Beans and Boston Marrow Squash (by  Jonathan Cambra at Castle Hill in Newport, RI) and a Portuguese seafood stew made with blue cod and native littlenecks and heirloom Trophy Tomato jam (by James Campagna at the Boathouse Restaurant in Tiverton, RI).

Heirloom squash transformed into a ragout served with skillet-roasted bass at Nicks on Broadway (Providence RI) during 2009 RAFT Grow-Out

We’re also making big plans for the Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner in Portsmouth, NH, which will be held on September 19th this year.  Last year’s menu featured delicacies like Wood-grilled Scallop with True Red Cranberry Bean falafel and Jimmy Nardello pepper relish prepared by Mark Segal at the One Hundred Club.

In the meantime, while my mouth waters just thinking of the scrumptious harvest, the vegetables are soaking up the sun and rain and growing just a little bigger every day.  For hundreds of years farmers have patiently planted and tended these heirloom varieties… I guess I can wait a few more months!