Featured Farm: 21 Acres
- posted on: August 3, 2023
- posted by: Val McKinley
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This article was written by 21 Acres Farm Market Team Member, Jen Horner. Jen was raised on a farm in Iowa and loves growing and eating vegetables.
This month’s featured farm, 21 Acres, holds a special place in my heart. When I moved to Woodinville, I was delighted to discover 21 Acres and immediately contacted them to find out how to get involved. I’ve happily been a part of this organization for almost 10 years now.
Meet Our Team
During that time, I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many amazing folks promoting sustainable agriculture and working to find solutions to climate challenges, but our current Soils Team (the farmers and restoration ecologists who work on campus at 21 Acres) is hands down the best. I would like to introduce you to our Soils Team: Farmers Ansley Roberts, Emily Harrop, Lynnea Zuniga and Malka Hoffman; and our Restoration Specialists Jess Chandler and Katherine Cole. These are the people who are growing the produce, weeding the fields, planting the flowers, cutting down the blackberries, leading volunteer groups, educating the public, restoring the land, and so much more.
21 Acres is located in the Sammamish River Agricultural Production District and is a certified organic farm with four acres of farmland. We are a regenerative farm guided by agroecological principles. Our Soils Team works with nature to create resilience on the farm and seeks to nurture a socially equitable food system. For instance, we grow cover crops in fields that aren’t in production, which prevents erosion, improves soil health, crowds out weeds, controls pests and insects, and increases plant biodiversity. We also host organizations, like Hopelink and FareStart, for food gleanings, which reduces food waste and fights hunger in our community.
You’re Invited to 21 Acres!
The best way to understand what we do at 21 Acres is to pay us a visit. We host tours of the 21 Acres farm and the restoration areas on the fourth Saturday of each month, as well as regular Saturday volunteer farm steward work parties (check the website here for details and to sign up – it’s free!). You’re also welcome to do a self-guided tour of the farm any time we’re open to the public, Wednesday through Saturday, 10-4. We have maps and binoculars available upstairs in our education center lobby.
Dry Farmed Tomatoes
This is our farm’s third year of growing and selling dry farmed tomatoes. Dry farming is a centuries-old farming technique originating in the Mediterranean region. In western Washington, where rains normally saturate the soil in winter and our summers are becoming hotter and dryer (which is increasingly attributed to climate change), our region naturally allows for dry farming, a method where all irrigation is cut off after the plants have become established. This lack of water stresses the plant, forcing its roots deep into the soil in search of water and focuses its efforts on producing fruit. As you can see in the photo, the dry farmed tomato plant’s roots on the left are much longer than the roots of a conventionally grown tomato plant on the right. The resulting tomatoes are usually smaller and lower in yield, but pack tremendous flavor and a dense, firm texture.
The Farm Team is also experimenting this year with dry farmed chickpeas and dry beans from Adaptive Seeds, which has a whole collection of crops that have been bred to perform well under dry farming conditions in our region!
While dry farmed tomatoes might look a bit like more traditionally gown tomatoes, their taste is anything but ordinary. These smaller, round, bright red fruits pack an intense, sweet flavor and a rich texture that is unmatched by store-bought tomatoes and on par with heirloom varieties in the peak of their season. In short, they are absolutely spectacular. Dry-farmed tomatoes are best used in recipes that allow their intense flavor to shine. Any raw tomato salad or salsa would be great or try roasting them in the oven and making them into a jam. Ansley recommends making your own tomato sauce for canning. But the best thing to do is slice them up and serve them on a platter, drizzled with olive oil and a flick of sea salt. Simple, pure perfection!
21 Acres is growing two varieties of dry farmed tomatoes this season, the tried-and-true New Girl and a new variety, Dirty Girl. We will have several tomato tastings in the Market throughout the month of August (subscribe to the newsletter to find out when). We would love to hear what you think and hope to see you soon!