Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Time for tomatoes at Willow Springs Market Garden

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 6:42 PM

image
  • Courtesy of Willow Springs Market Garden
  • Heirloom tomatoes from Willow Springs Market Gardens

Green Zebras. Striped Caverns. Pink Brandywines and Gypsies. No, it isn't a list of things appearing in the next J.R.R. Tolkien film, but the names of things very near and dear to the heart of every Arkansan this time of year: tomatoes. And not just any tomatoes, but fresh grown, organically raised heirloom breeds, the likes of which you'll never find on the shelf at the local Kroger. Lots of folks are growing tomatoes this time of year, and one of my favorite growers is Robert Lashley of Willow Springs Market Garden, an Englishman and retired RN who has lived in Arkansas for over three decades. From his garden just outside the Southern city limits, Lashley raises a variety of peppers, vegetables, and fruits — and while I've been eating on his fresh garlic (in mild, medium, or wonderfully hot) for a few weeks now, it's those delicious tomatoes with the fantasy names that keep me coming back time after hungry time.

Of particular note are those Green Zebras, a light and tangy tomato that looks just like the name describes it: bright green with visible stripes. I've eaten these tomatoes sliced by themselves and put them in salads and the hold up quite well to both uses. The flavor is sweet and slightly tart all at once, and while it isn't a hefty, meaty breed, these green jewels aren't shy about flavor. The Green Zebra isn't a true heirloom, having been bred in Washington and introduced in 1983, but the bright flavor and excellent texture of this tomato make it well worth giving a try.

My other favorite breed of tomato from Willow Springs this year is a true heirloom, and that's the Striped Cavern. This tomato has a thick, yet tender outer layer and a cavernous center that makes it perfect for stuffing. My wife and I took several of these Striped Caverns and stuffed them with a mixture of spinach, shallots, Parmesan cheese, and bacon and wound up with a pan full of divine stuffed tomatoes whose sugars had intensified and concentrated, all without the shells breaking down to spill their contents everywhere. Forget the stuffed bell peppers while these tomatoes are in season — you won't want to miss these.

Lashley, who raises his garden with assistance from his wife Peg and son Alex (who Lashley says does "the heavy lifting), sells his wares at the Argenta Farmers Market in North Little Rock on Saturdays and Bernice Garden Farmers Market on Sundays. Like a lot of our local growers, Willow Springs is dedicated to growing food without the use of harsh pesticides and with an emphasis on variety and sustainability — and of course, excellent flavor. Lashley plans to have Japanese Persimmons later on in the year, and he assures me they'll erase my terrible memories of the American variety; after eating his tomatoes, I'll trust the man's word.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Michael Roberts

Readers also liked…

  • We can do better, Little Rock

    The Friday Five open line is here, and we're talking restaurant sales numbers. You can talk about whatever you'd like.
    • Feb 20, 2015
  • Root Cafe the Growing America winner on HLN

    How apt: The Root Cafe is the viewer-chosen winner of the documentary series "Growing America: A Journey to Success," on HLN TV. The show's idea: that MBAs from the country's most prestigious universities could help businesses to, well, leaf out.
    • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: Arkansas Fresh Bakery Cafe is open

    Get up early for some of the best food in Central Arkansas, because Arkansas Fresh has announced that they're ready to go with their cafe. UPDATE: And it's delicious!
    • Jan 5, 2015

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Nursing home bribery case details suspect judicial fund-raising

    Plaintiffs' lawyers made their case today to continue to trial with the civil suit over then-Judge Mike Maggio's reduction of a $5.2 million jury verdict in a nursing home negligence case to $1 million, a reduction he said he made in return for campaign contributions from the nursing home's owner.
  • Defense for Suhl asks judge to dismiss bribery indictment, citing Supreme Court decision in McDonnell case

    Attorneys for the businessman argue that his cash payments to a former deputy director of DHS, Steven Jones, did not constitute corruption. They say prosecutors cannot prove the money was given in exchange for any particular "official act" from Jones.
  • When America was great

    Donald Trump is right. There was a time when America was great and it didn't pussyfoot around to avoid offending people who thought they were victimized by discrimination. It was, let's see, the period after World War II, when everyone prospered and America was kicking butts, at home and abroad, and Arkansas's leaders were at the center of it.
  • Arkansas Heirloom Tomatoes at Edwards Food Giant for the Fourth of July weekend

    We are receiving 200-pounds of large heirloom tomatoes Friday morning from Times publisher and farmer Alan Leveritt. We have dark, brick red Carbons, Goldies (large, high acid golden tomatoes) and Annis Noire, a delicious French heirloom that is green with red marbling when ripe.
  • Resistance grows nationally to freeway expansions

    The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has issued a news release about freeway expansion with relevance in Little Rock. It's about wasting money to widen freeways that only create more congestion. Sound familiar?

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation