If you have been looking for fresh soy beans, you’ll find them at Handlebar Farm’s booth at the West End Farmers Market. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them offered at a local market; it was great to stumble over them, so to speak, at the market on Sunday. The soy beans were planted as an experiment, to see if they may actually thrive here. So far, so go. They began to ripen in July, several months after planting, and should continue to produce through mid October. If you’ve enjoyed edamame–boiled soy beans seasoned with course salt–in Japanese restaurants, you can easily make them at home.
The small Sebastopol farm’s current harvest also includes tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, Romanesco zucchini, Chioggia beets, purple beets, white storage onions, red storage onions, red torpedo onions, carrots, potatoes, Lacinato kale, beautiful plump heads of lettuce and lots of strawberries, which tend to sell out long before the market wraps up. They also have two types of pole beans, Maxibel haricot vert, a green variety, and Velour haricot vert, a deep purple hue that looks almost black.
Any day now, Jimmy Nardello peppers–a long thin chile that is typically picked after it has turned red and developed its rich, sweet flavors–will ripen.
Ian Healy, a former high school science teacher, and his wife, Emily Mendell, an environmental educator, started their farm two summers ago and joined the West End Farmers Market for its first season. This year, with their farm now well established, they had planned to attend two farmers markets each weekend but sales have doubled at the West End market. Between this market and a small handful of restaurants, they’re selling all they grow.
Handlebar Farm received its organic certification this year. Inspired by Singing Frogs Farm, Mendell and Heally do not till the soil and use compost to keep it healthy. This year, they are also conducting more soil tests in order to add specific nutrients deficient in their little two-acre patch of paradise.
The farm’s season runs from mid-March to mid-December, which coincides with the current West End Farmers Market season.
Handlebar Farm, located on Schaeffer Rd. in Sebastopol, was founded by Ian Healy and Emily Mendell in 2012. You’ll find the farm at West End Farmers Market at 801 Donahue St., Santa Rosa, adjacent to the DeTurk Park and Round Barn, on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For updates on the farm’s weekly harvest, visit handlebarfarm.blogspot.com.