10 Mar2013

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I visited the greenhouses of Toscana Farms on the same morning as Gejo’s Malipayon Farms, just down the road, also to stock up on produce for the magazine photo shoot at the beach. I had been meaning to drop by Toscana for literally years, but finally managed to schedule a visit with Nacho, a long-time marketmanila.com reader. The first post I wrote on the Toscana Farm stand was in March 2005, just months after I started this blog, and I have been buying their tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, melons, eggplants and herbs there ever since. So I was thrilled to finally visit the greenhouses, where the produce is raised in a very scientific manner…

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Huge greenhouses are screened in, and plants in neat rows, trellised and frankly, in little contact with soil. There are growing mediums, piped in water with nutrients, few bugs, careful trimming, etc. Some of the technology is similar to that in greenhouses in Israel, where they raise much of their produce in difficult growing conditions. I won’t get into much detail, but suffice it to say I was amazed by the neat rows of vegetables and the amount of fruit that was harvested on a daily basis. It was impressive. Not totally organic, but still fantastic.

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And look at the fruit! This was taken JUST AFTER a harvest was taken, so you can just imagine how laden each tomato plant gets. The farmhands trim off many blooms and offshoot leaves/branches, and they carefully nudge the plant to be as productive as it can get in the six months or so that it produces fruit.

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These were the “red wine” cherry tomatoes, or I think they called them “chocolitos” internally… they can sometimes have a tough skin, but as far as taste and flavor go, they pack a wallop and I love them in our salads at home…

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Long clusters of cherry tomatoes…

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…and a close-up of a cluster of tomatoes.

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Tomatoes are picked by hand, and in varying stages of ripeness. Some need a few more days to reach their peak, which others were harvested ready to eat.

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Pickers drop off their harvest into crates at the end of each row.

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Green tomatoes (yes, some folks do order these, think fried green tomatoes), half-ripe tomatoes…

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…harvested cherry tomatoes…

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…beautifully ripe ones.

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Young eggplants…

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…and nearby adult eggplants bearing the most amazing fruit, large and unblemished and hanging some 4-5 feet in the air! I use these eggplants for eggplant parmigiana. :)

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Even more amazing were the vines of honeydew melons, also growing “vertically” towards the sky and aided by trellises or guide wires…

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…here, two beautiful melons hanging some 8 feet up in the air!

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Farm supervisor Cely, who graciously gave us a very informed tour of the property, harvesting a melon for me. We ate the melon later the same day and it was absolutely delicious. With another day or two on the vine it would have been PERFECT. I wish I had some thinly sliced prosciutto me to savor with the sweet melon!

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Cucumber vines…

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…and some baby cukes!

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Some butternut squash also on hanging vines, which I gather helps to keep the skins of the fruit/vegetables unblemished.

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Lush basil and green onion plants an outdoor border to one of the greenhouses.

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Look at that Italian parsley!!!

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After picking up our order of vine-ripened tomatoes, and purchasing some green, red and yellow capsicum and the melons, we were told that there was actually another farm a few minutes away that had the capsicum plants that were fruiting. So we decided to head there to see row upon row of green, yellow and red bell peppers, grown in a manner similar to the tomatoes.

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Green, red and yellow peppers are different varieties. While all of them start off green, the red ones turn a luscious red and the yellow ones a bright yellow orange when they are ripe. The colored ones also seem to be sweeter.

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Toscana has some clients with huge weekly requirements for peppers, so these are mostly already “spoken for” though I always manage to buy some from their roadside stand in Silang.

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This certainly isn’t your romantic small farm set-up, but it was just simply exhilarating to see the fruit on the vines or plants!

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Some of the peppers we took home that day…

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…and the tomatoes in stock in our kitchen that day. The yellow tomatoes were from S&R, and some of the organic cherry tomatoes were from malipayon farms. With produce like this in the kitchen, it’s kind of hard not to put something delicious and appetizing on the dining table. Many thanks to Nacho, Cely and the crew of Toscana Farms for a wonderful tour of the premises. The tomatoes we took with us were absolutely spectacular! Salamat!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. EbbaBlue says:

    Oh I love fried green tomatoes. And the bell peppers…goshthey look so delicious.

    Mar 10, 2013 | 11:25 am

     
  2. Skye says:

    Ang ganda! Parang manufacturing line ang rows of plants :-)

    Mar 10, 2013 | 12:47 pm

     
  3. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Spectacular Indeed!!

    Mar 10, 2013 | 1:17 pm

     
  4. Betchay says:

    I bet you took some photography lessons recently…..your photos are getting really good, vibrant and with very good composition! :)
    Toscana must be the Garden of Eden!

    Mar 10, 2013 | 4:58 pm

     
  5. joey @ 80 breakfasts says:

    Was just watching a show on tv where they were showing some fried green tomatoes and coupled with this first picture here has got me seriously craving!! Toscana Farms is truly a gem!

    Mar 10, 2013 | 6:39 pm

     
  6. millet says:

    if i’m unable to sleep tonight, it will be because of that last picture.

    Mar 10, 2013 | 7:48 pm

     
  7. EJ says:

    Beautiful produce!

    Mar 11, 2013 | 12:07 am

     
  8. krizteene says:

    Can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with the produce that you have!

    Mar 11, 2013 | 3:01 am

     
  9. DC says:

    What an amazing garden and beautiful food. Spring is almost here in the northern US and your lovely photos make these last few months of cold weather tough to bare.

    Mar 11, 2013 | 3:21 am

     
  10. Titanons says:

    Wish you could have talked more on how the trellis system is set up. Love to grow them myself that way on a smaller scale, of course. Beautiful!!!!!

    Mar 11, 2013 | 5:17 am

     
  11. ami says:

    Wow, these pictures romanticizes farming.

    Mar 11, 2013 | 9:17 am

     
  12. cherryoyvr says:

    Beautiful! Wish you could provide specific names of your specimens. Wonder if they grow heirloom tomatoes over there? They have a nursery in these parts that offers heirloom tomato sampling every September. You can then figure out which ones you’d like to grow or purchase. They are all grown locally and organically as well. http://www.phoenixperennials.com/learn/E-Newsletter-Aug-2012.php

    I guess if there were no restrictions – a local olive oil grower can do a tie in for the tastings. I’m sure the pairing would taste like heaven! Thanks for the enjoyable post MM. =)

    Mar 11, 2013 | 10:10 am

     
  13. Marketman says:

    cherryoyvr, to my knowledge, olives don’t thrive in places without a winter? or at least cooler weather part of the year. No heirlooms in this bunch, I understand they cost far more to produce than some of these hybrid varieties… it is a commercial farm after all…

    Mar 11, 2013 | 12:19 pm

     
  14. Maki says:

    Hala oi… kanindot!!! that’s my initial reaction.. I wanted to become a farmer all of a sudden.. wait let me tell my wife… lol

    Mar 11, 2013 | 1:36 pm

     
  15. Shalum says:

    The images are soooooooo beautiful.

    Mar 11, 2013 | 2:36 pm

     
  16. niceyfemme says:

    We went there march 4 and its not allowed to go inside the tents.. :( also no bell peppers and melons available that day so sad…. :(

    Mar 11, 2013 | 2:43 pm

     
  17. Mrs Froggie says:

    Beautiful and pest-free, MM! The last picture reminded me of fruits, persimmons, green and red grapes,yellow guavas… siniguelas… ;p I wonder if they have a great security crew… in my brother-in-law’s farm, the magnanakaw always outwit them during harvest time. When the fruits/vegetables are ready to harvest, they’re gone as in disappear into thin air like magic, and because it is organic,there are so many instances that the pests get the better of them like… the mice bite into each and every dragonfruit when it is ready to harvest, so no useful produce at all. I suggested wrapping the fruits with wirescreen individually. Sad, but that is Philippine economy and neighbors for you.

    Mar 11, 2013 | 3:07 pm

     
  18. Monty says:

    Beautiful veggies. Eating healthy has surely become a big business. We didn’t use to have much of a selection of vegetables and herbs around 15 years ago and now we’ve improved quite a bit. The high end restaurants seem to fuel demand for high quality local produce, while the inspired home cooks use these to whip up their own gourmet dishes. I was looking at some Swiss fennel bulbs in Santis last December and they cost almost P900 per kg. Absolutely ridiculous prices and I hope more local sources can be developed.

    My only complaint is that after every major typhoon, we seem to run out of these veggies for several weeks. I guess there is need to diversify the locations on where these produce are grown.

    Mar 11, 2013 | 6:13 pm

     
  19. cherryoyvr says:

    Sorry for the oversight MM. I envy the tropical weather there too much to have even thought about what is required to grow olive oil. Tried my hand in growing some heirlooms last summer and they’re not that difficult to grow but they require a lot of space. I think you would certainly enjoy the Tomato Tasting at Phoenix if you were here in September. Gary’s descriptions of each kind are sure as entertaining as the tastings.

    Cheers! Thank you and keep up those fabulous posts.

    Mar 12, 2013 | 9:02 am

     
  20. tracy says:

    Impressive operation! Might not be the bucolic idyll of an Amorsolo painting, but still a sight to behold.

    Mar 12, 2013 | 3:04 pm

     
  21. PITS, MANILA says:

    now so envious … :)

    Mar 12, 2013 | 4:07 pm

     
  22. Kasseopeia says:

    With a stash like that, I would be eating tomatoes in every form and preparation for the next 21 meals or so… =)

    Beautiful!

    Mar 12, 2013 | 7:44 pm

     
  23. odessa says:

    picture perfect veggies!!!!

    Mar 14, 2013 | 3:34 pm

     
  24. Avid Thinker says:

    Wow, what a wonderful find! Thank you for sharing MM. :=)

    Mar 15, 2013 | 6:47 pm

     
  25. Anne says:

    Sun-dried tomato Marketman, so easy to do. Slice into long pieces, put in a glass baking dish with olive oil, oregano, basil, garlic powder (with or w/o sea salt) and leave in oven for 4-5 hrs @ 200 deg F. They are done when dried and dark in color, store in jars. You can also add fresh garlic cloves and more olive oil per preference. This is good on fresh salad, pasta, BLT, omelet, etc. So good you’ll lov it…

    Apr 7, 2013 | 11:25 pm

     
  26. Ching Dee says:

    Hi! Is the farm open for visitors? I visited the farms a few years ago in a class trip, but I’m not sure if they allow visitors to just pop in. Hehe. Also, any website or contact info of Toscana Farms? Thanks, MarketMan!

    Nov 14, 2014 | 6:02 pm

     

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