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Tomatoes Right in Our 'Backyard'
Features - Farmers and Markets
Written by Michelle Lahey   

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a Summertime Salad Tasting event hosted by Backyard Farms and Neptune Oyster.

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Backyard Farms

Backyard Farms is a year-round tomato grower based in Madison, Maine. They grow three different kinds of tomatoes: on the vine, beefsteak and cocktail tomatoes. Backyard Farms’ tomatoes only travel as far as the farm can drive in one day.

At the event, Backyard Farms’ VP of marketing,Pete Lewis, taught us a lot about the farm and their tomatoes. We learned that Backyard Farms uses beneficial insects as their main source of preventing unwanted insects from coming near their fruit, and they also depend on bees to naturally pollinate their plants. Due to their year-round growing season, Backyard Farms is also able to provide more than 200 jobs in their community. 

The intimate group of bloggers and writers in attendance on this particular evening were lucky enough to try all three of Backyard Farms’ tomato varieties, and simple garnishes were on hand to enjoy them with. The garnishes included smoked sea salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Many people in the small crowd (including yours truly) commented on how fresh, juicy and surprisingly “real” these tomatoes tasted. It’s sad that the majority of us forgot what a real, local tomato tastes like.

In addition to the tomatoes, Michael Serpa, Chef of Neptune Oyster, was also on hand to prepare some delicious dishes incorporating Backyard Farms’ tomatoes. Serpa prepared his restaurant’s popular dish, the Lobster Caprese salad, as well as a White Anchovy Salad, which we were lucky enough to walk away with the recipe for.

Both salads were fresh and flavorful, but the biggest hit was the Lobster Caprese. Chunks of fresh lobster, freshly squeezed lemon, mozzarella cheese, shallots, chives, olive oil, salt, pepper and the tomatoes were served atop crispy slices of baguette. It was a light, yet satisfying dish that’s worth paying Neptune Oyster a visit for. One thing we learned at this event is something that totally blew my mind – mainly because my tomatoes spoil so much faster in these warmer months than usual. Lewis taught us that, for tomatoes on the vine, the tomato closest to the top of the vine is called the “King Fruit” – which is what you want to eat first, as it is the ripest of the bunch. Lewis also advised against putting your tomatoes in the fridge as the cooler temperatures can mess with the tomato’s texture. 

Overall, it was a lovely evening learning about and tasting some delicious, locally-grown tomatoes. Backyard Farms is clearly devoted to producing quality, delicious tomatoes – and they’re obviously passionate about and proud of what they’ve grown. 

 

 

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