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The “Hanover” Tomato Explanation…plus CSA & mkt 7.8.2017

Every year as tomato season is about to begin we have a unique orientation session for our staff that have moved here from out of town. It’s the “Hanover” Tomato explanation. We get to prepare our new staff to field questions about “Hanover Tomatoes” and help explain the interesting phenomenon – dare we say myth? – that is the Hanover Tomato in central Virginia.

The question we prepare them to receive at the farmers’ markets is this: “Are these Hanover Tomatoes?” asks many an excited and well-meaning market customer.

The answer is an unequivocal “No.”

Why?? And how do we respond to the enthusiastic customers who approach the table proclaiming “I’m here for some Hanover Tomatoes!”

Here’s the explanation: a Hanover tomato isn’t a type of tomato. It isn’t a variety. It’s just any old tomato grown in Hanover County.

Our farm is in Chesterfield County. Thus, we grow Chesterfield Tomatoes. We only sell what we grow, and thus we sell only our Chesterfield Tomatoes. Tomato growers in Hanover choose whatever favorite variety or varieties of tomatoes they prefer to grow, then they grow them, then they are marketed as “Hanover tomatoes”. There is no particular variety that makes a mater a Hanover. The Hanover tomato is simply the slightly-mythical product of an effective marketing campaign.

Ouch.

There are lots of legends surrounding this, including some perusal into how some vendors may unethically prey on central Virginia consumers’ attraction to a “Hanover Tomato.” (See Virginia Living’s The Legend of the Hanover Tomato.) It’s easy to be confused and mis-led. The leading explanation that we have heard is that Hanover County has a significant number of tomato growers, and the County or some advocacy entity did a really swell job of marketing the idea of a “Hanover Tomato.” Some claim the soil in Hanover is ideal for tomato growing, thus consistently producing quality tomatoes. This may be true. Sandy soil with a lower pH can have advantages for growing tomatoes. However, one need not be in Hanover County in order to have soil that isn’t clay-dominated. (Our farm’s soil is not clay dominated and has lower-than-avg pH, for example.)

Really, people around here mean “local tomato” when they say “Hanover tomato” but it would be dishonest of us to pretend that our tomatoes are Hanovers. So we prep our staff. We smile at market and excitedly tell customers about our Chesterfield tomatoes. Our dear, sweet customers are consistently, and understandably, confused. It’s weird to be at a farmers’ market around here and be told the tomatoes aren’t Hanovers. However, the good news is that we also hear all the time from shoppers that have found Hanover tomatoes to be disappointing and they tell us our tomatoes blow out of the water any Hanovers that they have tried. Now, since we have established that a Hanover tomato isn’t a variety, it wouldn’t be fair to say that our tomatoes are better than any Hanover tomato, since at least one friend of ours can grow a mighty fine tomato in Hanover. But the take home message here is that it’s about more than “Hanover tomato or not.” We grow great-tasting tomatoes, we only sell what we grow, we enjoy selling our produce to our neighbors, and we very proud to be farming in Chesterfield County. Please visit us at market this weekend to pick up some tomatoes. And you can tell us that you know about the Hanover tomato myth.

We also grow delicious herbs and okra. Look for both, plus a July-surprise-round of Arugula and lots of Microgreens and salad greens, at markets this weekend.

Saturday’s/Monday’s Farm Share will most likely includeLettuce (different leaves than our Salad Mix), Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Carrots, Onions, Summer Squash, Garlic

* We now have a Facebook group for our CSA Members. Send a request to join, and we’ll add you so that you can exchange cooking ideas or questions with other members. (Thanks to those members that requested this!)

Vegetable Notes & Recipe Suggestions…also cataloged on our Recipe Page and see our Pinterest Page
Lettuce 
– Our “Lettuce” is different than our “Salad.” The leaves are larger and more crunchy. This lettuce is a variety that we have success with growing during the hottest part of the summer. It makes a delicious salad and is also fabulous as part of a Tomato Sandwich.
Summer Squash – Try Summer Squash Salad by All Recipes or Shaved Summer Squash Salad by Epicurious (except that it calls for Arugula, which we find extremely challenging to grow this time of year…try subbing lettuce and/or some herbs). Or Herbed Summer Squash Salad. And then there is Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread and/or Death by Chocolate Zucchini Bread. {Please don’t actually die.}
Cucumbers – One more plug for our family’s favorite pickle:  “Easiest” Fridge Pickle Recipe  Cucumber Salad ideas: Thai Cucumber SaladGerman Cucumber Salad.
Tomatoes – New York Times’ Cooking’s Best Gazpacho Recipe (also calls for Cucumber, Garlic, and Onion). Plus: Sandwich Ideas to Take your Tomato Sandwich to the Next Level. And the Broiled Tomato Sandwich recipe. {May we add that we think our Bread makes the best sandwiches anywhere.}

This week’s harvest (and baking) includes: 
Arugula, Basil, Cabbage (savoy), Carrots, Chard, Cilantro, Cucumbers, Dill, Garlic, Green Beans, Kale, Lettuce, Microgreens, Onions, Parsley, Shishito Peppers, Sweet Orange Peppers, Salad Mix, Spearmint, Summer Squash, Tomatoes (slicers and cherries)…and our Organic Hearth Baked Bread (Baguettes, Garlic, Seed, & Raisin loaves for this weekend)
{Our farmstand is open Friday with most of the above items…see here for updated inventory}

2017 Market Share CSA Members: Reserve your selection online to pick up Saturday, July 8th at our farm, at the Brandermill Green Market, or at the Farmers Market @ St. Stephens.

Anything remaining after CSA shares are distributed and our farm stand is shopped… we’ll bring to the Brandermill Green Market or the Farmer’s Market @ St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the West End of Richmond. Keep an eye on what we have available via the online farmers’ markets: FallLineFarms.com and Local Roots Food Coop.

Enjoy ~
Janet, Dan, & the whole Broadfork crew

Want to follow along during the week, including Farm Stand updates? Visit us on Facebook or Instagram.

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