Farmer Phil McGrath was at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market recently, and very excited about the first of his English peas. Farmer Phil plants his peas very late in the summer and they usually start to produce about three months later, depending on the weather. Both the heat and rain in January really helped his peas take off. Peas are a great crop for the soil, because they are nitrogen fixers and add nitrogen to the soil. They like a lot of water and can handle the cold. The peas at McGrath Family Farm’s stand at the Farmers Market are never more than twelve hours old. For those of you who don’t like to shell your own peas, or don’t have the time, you can also buy McGrath’s peas already shelled. (They have a machine to shell peas; just hand feed the whole pea in and they come out shelled). Peas are best eaten fresh, within about four days of purchase. You can also freeze English peas, but Farmer Phil thinks that defeats the purpose of fresh peas. Pea tendrils are also delicious, can be eaten raw or cooked. The tendrils are picked before the plant flowers and turns into a pea. However, the more tendrils that are picked from the plant, the fewer peas that will grow, so they actually destroy the crop. Therefore, pea tendrils tend to be fairly expensive. McGrath family farm is at the Wednesday Market and will have peas for the next four months.
Special Event: Santa Monica Farmers Market Library Panel Thursday February 26 7:00 -9:00 p.m. at the Main Library MLK Jr. Auditorium. With increased interest and emphasis on locally and sustainably grown produce customers, buyers, chefs, and farmers are pondering the future of farming and how they will be able to keep the best tasting food on their farms and on their tables. The panel will discuss the philosophy and logistics of getting fresh produce from the farm to the fork. Panelists will be farmer Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms, farmer Mike Cirone of Cirone Farms, buyer Karen Beverlin of Fresh Point Produce, and chef Michale Cimarusti of Providence Restaurant. The panel will be moderated by Evan Kleiman chef/owner of Angeli Caffe and host of KCRW’s Good Food. Stay after for treats prepared by Chef Cimarusti. This event is free and open to the public. For more information contact the Santa Monica Public Library at 310.458.8600 or smpl.org.