Like many other farmers in the Bay Area, Louis Iacopi's 1996 early season crops were destroyed in the heavy December and January rains. In his case, he estimates that about 75% of his early peas and early potatoes were destroyed. That's a tough way to start the year.
Getting a Late Start
Because of the early crop damage he suffered, Louis is getting a late start at coming to the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market this year. In a normal year, he would have had produce to bring starting in mid-March. But this year, he started on April 20th and with only one crop - bags of freshly-picked English peas that were sold out by 11:00 am. Louis is optimistic that things will pick up from here on and that he'll be at the Saturday market through November with the 15 types of produce that he's growing.
A Farm at Half Moon Bay Airport?
The location of Louis's 100-acre farm is very unusual -- it's between the landing strips at the Half Moon Bay Airport! Fortunately, there's not too much air traffic at that airport, so Louis is able to keep his farm well-tended.
Until recently, he grew produce mainly for the wholesales markets. But low prices offered to him by wholesale buyers encouraged Louis try to sell direct to consumers through the Bay Area's farmers' markets. He's now at all the Bay Area farmers' markets and has been so successful that he sells very little to wholesalers these days.
Fava Bean Season is Coming
With his farm in the cool-weather zone of Half Moon Bay, Louis is particularly strong in legumes ranging from peas (sugar and English varieties), fava beans, snap beans and dry beans. But he'll also be offering corn, squash, Swiss chard, garlic and beets.
He says that fava bean season will be starting soon. So it's time to start thinking about recipes using fava beans:
- Italians, particularly Romans, love fresh fava beans as a vegetable side dish lightly stewed in olive oil, onions and pancetta (fave alla romana).
- Other Italians have favas as a first course coated with garlic-infused olive oil and covered with a few shavings of pecorino cheese. You can get wonderful, locally-made pecorino from Bellwether Farms.
- You'll find an ethereal recipe using fava beans at Ditty's Ethereal Cassoulet.
Look for Iacopi Farms airport-grown fava beans beginning in early May!
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