Carrot Craze

Barking Moon Farm will sell tons of its sweet vegetable at Southern Oregon growers markets
Organic carrots from Applegate's Barking Moon Farm are among the first vegetables at the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market, which opens next week in Ashland and Medford.Bob Pennell

Harvesting organic vegetables throughout the winter, Applegate farmers Josh Cohen and Melissa Matthewson plan for abundance.

And no crop is more abundant on the couple's Barking Moon Farm than carrots, sold at the rate of 3,500 pounds each week and eclipsing the farm's entire community-supported agriculture program for income. Local food co-ops, other independent grocers and a few restaurants snap up Barking Moon's sweet Bolero carrots, a coreless variety sold in bulk and 5-pound bags.

If you go

What: Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market

When: 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays, March 11 through Nov. 25, and Thursdays, March 13 through Nov. 20

Where: Tuesdays at the Ashland Armory, 1420 E. Main St., Ashland; Thursdays at the Medford Armory, 1701 S. Pacific Highway, Medford.

For more information: See www. rvgrowersmarket.com. For an interactive map of market locations, see www. mailtribune.com/growersmarket

"Ours get sold out quick," says Cohen. "We kind of have a reputation for really sweet carrots."

"People flock to them," confirms Dave Ouellette, produce-department employee at Medford Food Co-op, which sells the carrots for $1.69 per pound.

Banking on the vegetable's popularity, Cohen and Matthewson saved two beds solely for Tuesday's season opener of the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market in Ashland. Barking Moon also attends the Saturday Grants Pass Growers Market, which opened March 1.

Root vegetables stored over the winter and hardy field crops, such as kale, chard and spinach, will constitute the market's array of local, seasonally available produce. Prepared foods, plant starts and crafts also populate the market.

Produce varieties are fewer this spring, say farmers, since December's severe weather killed off their cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli, along with other unprotected crops. Yet snow blanketing fields for a week late last year safeguarded other vegetables, like Barking Moon's carrots.

While Cohen measured the outside air temperature at 7 degrees, the soil under several inches of snow maintained 33 degrees, the perfect storage temperature for carrots, he says. The cold, he adds, actually helps vegetables to convert their natural starches to sugars.

"Whatever doesn't kill 'em only makes 'em sweeter," says Cohen. "They're just carrots, but they're the best."

Try carrots in the recipe on Page 6.

Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email slemon@mailtribune.com.



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