It's Tomato Time
From slicers to cherry, Dogwood Road Farm sells a variety of ripe tomatoes at the Oconee Farmers Market.
If you're anxious to purchase locally-grown tomatoes, wait no longer. Head over to the Oconee Farmers Market this weekend.
Jamie Swedberg of Dogwood Road Farm and a number of other vendors will be selling many of the ripe slicers that folks are craving.
"A lot of customers are also really fond of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, tangerine-orange tomatoes that are super sweet," she said.
But the farm yields more than just tomatoes.
Dogwood Road Farm, located in Woodville along Highway 77 in Greene County, sits on about 13 acres, though only a couple are in production. The land is home to woodlands, ravines, creeks, an apple orchard and muscadine vines.
When Swedberg and her husband Earl Hicks first purchased the land in 2002, they didn't think much about farming it.
It wasn't until a trip to London for her husband's work in 2004 that the idea popped into Swedberg's mind. She learned about River Cottage, which operates, according to the business' website, under the principals of "less dependence on the outside world, food integrity, and the consumption of local, seasonal produce." It was "the right message at the right time," Swedberg said, and she planted a garden and the fruit trees.
Not long after, Swedberg learned about the Oconee Farmers Market and felt compelled to further expand the farm. She became a board member and has been selling at the market for 5 years.
Overtime Hicks left his corporate job and became a full-time farmer while Swedberg distanced herself a bit from the land. She still washes and prepares veggies, harvests potatoes, and mans the farm's booth at the market, but it's Hicks who has really taken over the reins.
"It all clicked with the next phase of our lives," she said.
You have to have a Zen-like attitude in order to grow produce that is 100 percent chemical-free and "beyond organic", she said, adding that it takes a detail-oriented person to notice everything that goes on around the farm, and that is how she describes her husband.
The couple even raise chickens and goats in order to produce their own fertilizer.
"We try to be as self-sufficient as we can," she said.
Hicks also has a unique talent for flower growing and arranging. Swedberg describes his taste as "Southern Gothic" and says her husband likes pairing unusual colors like lime and dark red. They are also proud of their sunflowers. (She'll have some special arrangements at the booth this week.)
The farm produces greens, such as kale and Swiss chard, varieties of potatoes "that are hard to find anywhere other than a farmers market," and a rainbow of peppers, including sweet, chocolate bell, and red Italian frying peppers. And, if you're looking for peppers with a kick, try Satan's Kiss-- the Italian answer to jalapenos, she said, best prepared with mozzarella cheese and anchovies.
Dogwood Road Farm sometimes offers European-style pastries, which are richer and less sweet than other baked goods traditionally found at the market, Swedberg said. Saturday she will have Greek yogurt cake and lavender shortbread -- per customer request -- that are certainly worth a try.
Here is a list of other items vendors will have at the Oconee Farmers Market this Saturday on the back lawn of Eagle Tavern from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.:
- Tomatoes (slicers and cherries)
- Lima beans
- Wildflower honey
- Cut flowers
- Grass-fed beef
- Lip balms
- Natural laundry detergent
- Pound cakes
- Pies (blueberry, mixed berry, strawberry-rhubarb, apple, chocolate chess)
- Dog biscuits