Heirlooms in the garden

Where to find valuable produce.

Farms are preparing for off-season chores, and markets are shutting down or scaling back for the hot days of summer. That does not mean that local food options are gone, however. Lychee fruit is just coming into season, radishes and eggplant are plentiful, and we've got another few weeks of exquisite heirloom tomatoes to nosh through.

Heirloom growers are like revolutionaries, railing against monoculture farming and rock-hard supermarket tomatoes with over 400 different lightly cultivated varieties in their ammo bag. Dozens of farms and backyard plots grow the stuff, some selling at neighborhood stands, some providing salad materials to just a few elect restaurants.

One of the biggest local growers is King Farms in Myakka, which cultivates 56 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes for restaurants around the Bay area and Sarasota. You'll be able to find King heirlooms at Sarasota's Downtown Farmer's Market at the Brown Groves booth, at least for the next few weeks.

Wherever you find these tomato treats, the simplest preparations are best. Check out David Miller's menu from last week's "$20 Menu Challenge" for one way to enjoy this seasonal fruit.

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