JR Organics and Suzie’s Farm both bring fresh basil to market in June.
  • JR Organics and Suzie’s Farm both bring fresh basil to market in June.
  • Image courtesy of JR Organics
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Summer is coming, and while summer squash harvests are well underway for farms around the county, as June progresses we’ll see more and more local tomatoes, especially good news as a couple of producers will be harvesting fresh basil.

Suzie’s Farm will bring both to their market stands and community-supported-agriculture boxes, along with six kinds of squash including small varieties like 8-ball and patty pan. Suzie’s squash blossoms, however, must be special ordered. Be on the lookout for relatively flavorful heirloom cucumbers as well, including lemon cucumbers and the speckled salt and pepper hybrid (each named for appearance, not taste). If you like a little kick, don’t sleep on the padron peppers coming out of the south bay farm this month. And if you go the other way you might want to try what Suzie’s calls sansho buttons. These are a variety of Toothache Flower, a petal-free edible that numbs the mouth and coats bitter-sensing tastebuds.

Out in Escondido, Heritage Family Farms will be transitioning from citrus crops —including a last gasp of kumquats — into stone fruits — expecting to see peaches and plums by month’s end, along with the farm’s early beefsteak and heirloom tomatoes.

In nearby Valley Center, Stehly Farms continues its citrus season with the arrival of ruby grapefruit and tango tangerines, a seedless varietal that’s easy to peel when ripe. Stehly also sees blackberries on the rise, blueberries on the wane.

Up in Oceanside, Kawano Farms will also be getting into the cucumber and tomato season. The third generation farm also plans to harvest Brussels sprouts this month — a good reason to find their farmers market stands. Another green veggie out of Kawano as the solstice approaches will be green beans.

Same with JR Organics, which will bring string beans to market, as well as heirloom red carrots and Persian cucumbers. Other cucumbers include some good for pickling — and if you’re into that JR will also have plenty of fresh dill on hand, and some great looking basil. Another interesting seasonal arrival is baby leeks, which resemble scallions yet impart a milder, sweeter flavor — great for soups, sauces, or the grill. But the sweetest thing out of JR this month may be their best-ever and still going harvest of blueberries.

JR Organics, also known as the Rodriguez Family Farm, started out with 55 acres in Escondido more than 50 years ago. Today, Joe Rodriguez Jr. represents the third generation operating the farm, which grows on up to 85 acres as water uses permit. Back in the 80s, after Joe Jr. and some farm workers were suffering health issues caused by use of chemicals, he piloted 5 acres of organic crops. By 1986, the organics had proven so successful the entire farm became certified organic.

Growing leafy greens year round, the farm is also known for its fresh herbs, seasonal squashes, strawberries and heirloom tomatoes. Rodriguez produce is available at Jimbo’s supermarkets, and its community-supported-agriculture program is thriving throughout Southern California. However, farmers markets remain its biggest distribution channel, with stands at multiple markets daily.

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