Tomato Watch Week 16 – First Tomatoes

We received the following e-mail yesterday from Welling Tom of Brookside Farm in Brentwood:

brookside_150Yesterday (Sunday, July 12) we sold our first tomatoes of the year at the Montclair farmers’ market. It was only a couple weeks ago when we were still watering them, so these tomatoes (Early Girls) were still larger and more water-plumped than ideal, but they were not bad, and people at the farmers’ market have been asking for tomatoes for some time now. The Early Girls were completely sold out. They should be better next week. Maybe good enough for Oliveto. We’ll see. 

Our heirloom and San Marzano tomatoes should be ready some time this month, and should continue to be in peak production through the month of August. All the tomatoes look good,but they are mostly green now.

-Welling Tom

2017-09-12T15:49:00+00:00July 14th, 2009|Brookside Farm, Farmers|0 Comments

Tomato Watch Week 11: Brookside Farm

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Anne Tom and Welling Tom of Brookside Farm in Brentwood stopped by this morning with a tomato update and some pictures of their San Marzano and Early Girl plants. Due to the recent cool weather, Welling estimates the tomatoes will be ready to go to market by mid-July.

In the meantime, Brookside’s Bing cherries and Rainier cherries are currently out of sight. And ‘Musica’ beans, started in the greenhouse back in March, should be ready in the next few weeks.

2017-09-12T15:49:04+00:00June 11th, 2009|Brookside Farm, Farmers|0 Comments

Update from Brookside Farm – Spring 2009

Welling Tom of Brookside Farm in Brentwood reports the following:

1. What Are You Planting?brookside_farm

Welling Tom: We have been planting some new fruit trees: sour cherries, Blenheim apricots, Elberta peaches, “donut” peaches, Fuyu persimmons, and apriums. As for vegetables; tomatoes, sweet peppers, and eggplants have been started in the green house during the past month, while fava beans, sugar snap peas, arugula, Chioggia beets, mizuna, bok choy, and Bloomsdale spinach were planted out in the field. During this month, Ambrosia melons, Japanese cucumbers, okra, and ‘Musica” beans will be started in the green house.

2. What are you excited about that is new this year?

Welling Tom: The sour cherries are new to us, and we planted them mostly to meet a request from Maggie Klein, although it will probably be at least 3 years before any of these new trees yield any significant harvests. In other news, we have a new hired hand who will help us be more productive. We also have a prospective student intern.

3. What are you excited about that is not new?

Welling Tom: Other than our sour cherries, we are not growing any crops that we have not been growing for several years. We are more focused on improving the management of our crops.

4. What are you concerned about?

Welling Tom: We are concerned about the availability of water from our county irrigation district. We depend on the county water supply to water our fruit orchard. We are also concerned about whether our income will be adequate this year.

2017-09-12T15:49:09+00:00March 5th, 2009|Brookside Farm|0 Comments

From the Kitchen – Tomato Dinners 2009

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Wednesday, August 26th – Saturday, August 29th

Make a Reservation

About a week before Tomato Dinners, when most of the tomatoes we will have to choose from are available for tasting, Chef Paul Canales and the cooks sit down with scores of varieties, mostly heirloom but some – like Early Girl-hybrids, and sort out which are the best, what their characteristics are, and how they might be prepared to best advantage. Amazingly, there is considerable variation even within varieties.

Every year, the variables of soil, weather, planting times, irrigation, and various farming practices yield surprising outcomes in flavor and texture. A farmer who produces a magnificent Pink Brandywine one year may offer a less flavorful one the next; but her Mortgage Lifters the same year might be nonpareil. Based on that tasting, each August we purchase around 3,000 pounds of the best tomatoes from local farmers for this joyful event.

Brookside Farm – Profile

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Established 1973

Owners

The Toms: Quong, Anne, and Welling

The farm was originally a nut tree orchard. The Toms sold almonds and walnuts to local bakeries (for 25 cents a pound!) Gradually the orchard gave way to a widening variety of produce. The farm eventually became profitable when they started selling at a number of farmers markets. Their son Welling finished college and returned home in the mid-1990s to help with the farm.

Chef Canales says, “Brookside Farm is all heart. There is not one thing they grow that is not in every way perfect. This is a super curated farm. They don’t have a lot of any one thing, but everything is exceptional.”

Principles

The Toms want to provide their customers with the kind of food they would want to eat. They do not use any herbicides or pesticides. They live where they farm.

“I try to understand what each crop or organism requires. It is the same for the farmland. It has a life of its own. I try to respect that.”

Practices

Brookside Farm is not geared toward mass production. They try to honor quality over quantity. The Toms do almost all of the work on the farm themselves. They do not employ any workers full time. The Toms are Chinese, but they mainly grow European crops and sell to western-style restaurants; they see the farm as a convergence of cultures.

Length of relationship with Oliveto

Since 2005

Location

10 acres in Brentwood, CA

Crops

Tomatoes – Early Girl, heirlooms, Momotaro, San Marzano, Japanese cucumbers, Porcelain garlic, Rocambole garlic, Asian pears, Fuyu persimmons.

Secondary crops: basil, sweet peppers, eggplant, okra, Italian parsley, pluots, white and yellow nectarines, Fuji apples, French prunes, Ambrosia melons, white peaches, Romano beans. Seasonal crops: beets, arugula, Asian greens, garlic scapes, green garlic, Bloomdale spinach, sugar snap peas, fava beans, chard, lettuce

Distribution

Select Bay Area restaurants

Farmers markets

Montclair – Sundays

2017-09-12T15:49:17+00:00January 1st, 2009|Brookside Farm, Farmers|0 Comments