Beets and summer squash continue to run strong around the county during the month of May, including at JR Organics, which is also enjoying some prime time in its strawberry season. JR Organics farmers’ market booths should also be a good source for sugar snap peas, arugula, English cucumbers, and dill.
May is a good time to explore the differences between the spring-salad mixes fielded by local farms. Adam Maciel Organic Farm will add a spicy salad mix featuring mizuna, pac choi, and mustard greens, suggesting it works for stir-fries as well as salads. They’re always big on greens, so look for spinach, rainbow chard, collard greens, and arugula, as well as dandelion, parsley, garlic, chives, and a new crop of cilantro. They also have four shades of radish: purple, red, pink, and white, which has a little more spice to it. For a short while Maciel will have a little fruit — specifically, loquats, also known as Japanese plums. The orange tropical fruits are similar in size and color to kumquats but don’t have a rind and aren’t related. They’re tart and sweet, reminiscent of apricots.
Out in the Temecula/De Luz area, Eden Farms has cherries coming into season, plus your pick of berries — raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and several varieties of mulberries. The tropical-fruit specialist also has mangos and papayas showing up, and hopes to see apricots and other stone fruits start to appear by the end of the month.
Suzie’s Farm has a spicy spring-salad mix it calls the Phoenix blend, which highlights the spicy leaves and edible flowers of the colorful nasturtium. That’s a Peruvian plant with multicolored petals and leaves said to taste like watercress. They’ve also got lemon verbena to add lemon flavor to sauces, dressings, and marinades without citric acid, and spring onions with scallion-like greens and tasty little bulbs.
Sitting on 70 acres just east of the Tijuana estuary, the certified organic Suzie’s Farm was started in 2004 by partners Robin Taylor and Lucila De Alejandro. Originally focused on edible flowers and herbs, Suzie’s now grows more than 100 kinds of crops annually, adding leafy greens, root vegetables, and the perennial favorite, strawberries.
Eighty-five employees see to Suzie’s crops, as well as its onsite farm stand and weekly farm tours. The farm hosts regular U-Pick events, giving customers a chance to learn about and feel more connected to their local food sources.
Suzie’s farmers’ market presence includes weekly markets in Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, North Park, Little Italy, Hillcrest, La Jolla, Leucadia, and Poway. Its produce may be found in area grocery-store chains including Baron’s, Jimbo’s, Frazier Farms, Whole Foods, and Sprouts — and at independent grocers including People’s Co-op, Windmill Farms, and Boney’s Bayside. San Diegans have probably encountered Suzie’s produce in local restaurants — too many to mention.
However, it’s the popular community-supported-agriculture program that Suzie’s considers to be the cornerstone of its business.