Sonoma: Hardin Gardens - Pretty eggs and heirloom produce - five varieties of spectacular lettuce
Picture the ideal family farm … or better yet, stop by Hardin Gardens and see it. It is one of my favorite farms.
Turn onto the gravel road to the little shaded grove surrounded by the farm. Just-picked produce is carefully laid out on a few tables. Lettuce and herbs, almost as pretty as flowers, are in containers of water to keep them fresh and perky.
Their specialty is tomatoes and in season there are 20-30 varieties. However, there are usually multiple varieties of all types of heirloom produce and there are new varieties every year.
I still remember last year’s great Biker Billy jalapenos and a variety of garlic that didn’t have cloves … pungent and a joy to chop. There are usually squash with blossoms attached.
Just a few varieties of tomatoes they grow: Odorikos, Abraham Lincoln, Ananais Noire, Chianti Rose, Coustralee, Eva's Purple Ball, Flamme, Garden Peach, Moskovich, Omar's Lebanese, Black Trifele, Kellog's Breakfast, Marianna's Peace, Better boy, Early Girl, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Black from Tula, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Japanese Mortgage Lifter, San Marzano, Striped German, Sweet Tangerine, Hillbilly.
This week it was lettuce … tiny Tom Thumb, vibrant-colored Green Ice (not iceberg), wildly beautiful red-tipped Merveilles Des Quatre Saisons, sturdy early-season Little Caesar Romaine, showy, delicate Continuity.
They also sell beautiful, multi-colored, VERY free-range eggs. Their chickens include Barred-Rock, Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington, Cuckoo Maran, Americana, and Leghorn. Prices are terrific. A half dozen is about $2.50 depending on size.
The girls have been busy this year as there were quite a few cartons of eggs. If you click on the website (in the link ay the end) there are pictures of the ladies.
They just started selling eggs last year and sometimes it was a race with other customers to snag some. It is best to get to Hardin at noon to get the best selection of produce.
They have some pygmy goats, but the milk is used to make soap.
Prices are excellent. Squash was $1.50 lb, lettuce 90 cents - $1.75 and last year tomatoes were $2.15. There is a discount for buying over 10lbs and over 20 lbs it was only $1.50 lb. Don’t know what the prices will be this year as it is a few weeks before tomatoes will be available.
Some photos of the lettuce from a Google search
Tom Thumb – An English heirloom mild-flavored butter lettuce with a gentle crunch.
Continuity – Gorgeous heirloom dating to around 1900 with delicate leaves with a touch of sorrel sourness
Four Seasons – A French heirloom introduced 1885. It has a pleasant touch of bitter with a faint sorrel-sourness. So pretty
Green ice – Stunning bright green with a delicate flavor
22656 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476
I went late yesterday so there wasn't a lot left.
However, I did manage to snag a "Collective farm woman Ukaranian melon"
This tiny melon was one of the most amazing melons I ever had. It was marginally like a honeydew with a green/yellow flesh, but the flavor and texture was something else. It was so sugary that there was even a sugary texture to the flesh. Very delicious.
Tomatoes are starting to appear ... Crimson camello, purple cherokee, 4th of July, Better Boy and Early Gril.
They had a different cucumber called Sweet Success.
This it seems will be my go-to place this year... during the cold rainy winter it will bring some summer sunshine memories of driving down country roads while savoring the sweet tastes of the season.
There were six varieties of peaches in boxes under the huge spreading English walnut tree that shades the area. On Wednesday the peach selection was Clarence (a yellow freestone), Strawberry, Starkling Delicious, Elberta, Babcock and, uh, something else
These are straight from the orchard picked at perfect ripeness. These peaches were not the type that would even survive to the farmers market without bruising. Handle with care. A few I carelessly tossed in a bag, bruised so I was 'forced' to enjoy them on the drive home.
Next to them were lovely tiny Sweet and Early cantelopes, some the size of a baseball.
There were four varieties of garlic ... red, white and blue ... The purple glaze are supposed to be the spiciest with the Oregon Blue similar in taste to a supermarket garlic. There was also Kettle River Giant and Kilarney red.
The Cheddar cauliflower was more of a deep mustard ... well, cheddar ... color than the usual gold cauliflower.
There was also beautiful fresh cabbage and the usual stellar summer squash. There were a few of the first Early Girl tomatoes and some green tomatoes. The dozen fresh herbs were so pretty with the Kentucky mint catching my eye.
Earl Grey, the cat, feigned disinterest while sitting on a bale of hay. His nickname is Earl the girl. He was having none of being teased.
I went by today and got some eggs on special - buy 1 dozen, get one dozen free. That made farm fresh large eggs only $3/dozen. Also got some great figs and two kinds of lettuce - both pristine and perfect looking. I took a walk around the farm to see the crops and the goats. The couple that owns the place is really nice. They report that tomato season is just around the corner.
Sounds like you may have gone at the end of the day and got a bargain ... or the girls are being really prolific about laying those eggs.
When I go it is usually when the open on Wed or Sat since they seem to have the best selection then.
Figs ... darn ... I was in the area but the races discouraged me from going over to Sonoma.