EDWARDS — There are tomatoes and then there are TOMATOES. Locally grown, vine ripened, juicy, sweet, sprinkled-with-a-little-bit-of-salt-and-your-heart-sings “Yes, now that’s a tomato!” Ripe, a permanent farmer’s market stand located in Edwards, will sell the little gems all summer long. The stand is open Monday through Thursday in Edwards at the Northstar Center, just off the second roundabout from I-70, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. New this year, the stand will also sell produce on Wednesday in Bachelor Gulch at the Market on the Mountain and have a booth on Sundays at the Vail Farmer’s Market.
“We work with about 10 to 15 small farms between Edwards and Palisade,” said Ripe co-owner Gretchen Schramm. “We drive around twice a week and pick up from these farms, bringing the produce to Ripe. It is a great relationship because many of these small farms do not have the manpower to worry about both growing and selling. We take care of the latter so the growers can focus on what they do best — producing beautiful food for the Vail Valley to enjoy all summer long.
“Everything is either certified organic, certified natural, or ‘consciously grown,’ meaning no harsh chemicals, pesticides or any other unnatural junk on the produce,” she continued.
The stand owners pride themselves on selling products that are not only good for our bodies but also good for the environment.
If you’re looking for the best, try an heirloom tomato. Heirloom basically means the plants are open pollinated and have been growing for at least 50 years. They have become heirlooms because seeds were saved and passed down from generation to generation. While tomatoes are probably the most commonly known heirloom crop, there are hundreds of heirloom plants such as garlic, potatoes, beans, lettuce and carrots to name a few.
“What makes heirloom varietals so delicious,” Schramm said, “is the fact that as fruits and vegetables grow, they are developing their flavor and nutrition. The harder the produce has to fight to survive the tastier it becomes. Since heirloom varieties are not genetically bread to mass-produce or withstand harsh conditions they are constantly fighting to grow, creating intense flavors and nutrients.”
Back to the tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes have long graced our tables. Dating back the 1800s when immigrants from France, Germany, Italy and other European countries were arriving in North America bringing with them the seeds of their homeland, the tomato was a prized kernel amongst their collection. Shunned by the Puritans because of its seemingly dangerous and improper French name, pomme d’amour, meaning “love apple,” tomatoes endured years of folklore until an upsurge in Italian-American’s brought tomato sauce to the forefront with a newly popular food, pizza. Today, American’s consume an average of 22 pounds of tomatoes per person each year, according to the FSA.
Ripe offers an assortment of heirloom tomatoes, providing the Vail Valley a way to help preserve the genetic diversity and colorful history of this once questionably evil fruit.
“Taste can differ considerably from one variation to the next,” said Mikey Hovey, co-owner of Ripe, “with the multiple colors all complimenting the palate when eaten together.”
Peter Schramm, the third member of the Ripe team chimed in, adding, “The lighter in color, the lower the acidity content, lending to a sweeter taste, versus the deep red and purple tomatoes with a more ‘tomatoey’ flavor and higher acidity.”
For additional information on Ripe, contact Gretchen Schramm at 970-445-0426 or firstname.lastname@example.org.