From heirloom tomatoes to buffalo golf clubs

Jannine, "The Tomato Lady," also grows giant pumpkins.

Visitors are invited to take a turn roasting green chilies in a hand-cranked mesh tumbler.

LaMont's makes the club for the golfer who has everything.

At 7 a.m. Saturday, while the rest of Santa Fe was still sleeping, dozens of farmers were already displaying their wares in the new Farmers Market. It is part of the Santa Fe Railyard, a newly developed area filled with galleries, a contemporary arts museum, restaurants, and boutiques.

Peaches and apples, fresh flowers and chilies, and tomatoes of every hue were among the offerings, in addition to breads, cheeses, and honeys.

Jannine, “The Tomato Lady,” described with gusto each of the kinds of tomatoes she was selling and offered free samples. The golden cherry tomatoes were unbelievably sweet.

What Jannine didn’t mention is that she is a Master Gardener with 25 years’ experience and that she has set state records growing giant vegetables, including, this year, a 421-lb. pumpkin. And this, although the growing season in Santa Fe is short, and the soil, she writes in her blog (, is “very alkaline, miserably hard and lacking organic materials.”

Local farmers like Jannine coax out of that unaccommodating soil eggplants and squash, watermelons and pears, carrots and scallions, and chilies, lot and lots of chilies—red, yellow, orange, and green—some of which were being roasted before our eyes in giant hand-cranked mesh tumblers. You could even have a turn with the tumbler if you were so inclined.

Nearby, alongside the lovely park that preserves the memory of the famous Santa Fe Railroad, dozens of crafts people set out their wares, providing nourishment for the spirit in addition to all that food for the body.

And if all the organic produce left you hungry for some red meat, you could stock up on LaMont’s buffalo steaks at a stand where the vendor also offered proof that size matters, in an unusual product made from what he called “the reproductive organ” of the animal. Perhaps you fancy an unusual walking stick, or a club that is sure to be a conversation opener on the golf course, marketed with the slogan, “Take a little of the old West home with you.” It’s much more than a little.
Text and photos copyright 2010 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text or photos may be used without written permission of the author.


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