We are at the end of the harvest season for fresh baby ginger and turmeric here in southern Illinois. Last week I met with John Pirmann who owns and operates River to River Farm with his wife Tam. Their son Chris also farms with them and was in the midst of his own turmeric and ginger harvest that day.
River to River Farm is one of the contributing farms of LEAF Online Farmers’ Market. This is an online farmers market made up of 9 local farmers. They post what is available online and members are able to make purchases from noon on Sunday to 8PM Tuesday night.
The beauty of this system is the farmers are able to communicate what is available, people order what they want, and the farmers know exactly how much they need to get out of the ground. This eliminates a lot of waste.
John and Tam have been doing farming full time since 2015. They love it. Aside from produce, Tam also makes handmade soaps and lotions from their goats’ milk and they grown loofas too.
They have 2 high tunnels that extend their growing season between 6 to 14 weeks. Depending on weather, they can begin planting in the tunnels as early as the end of February and harvest as late as December. In essence, these green houses are like moving your farm 500 miles south.
John, Tam & Chris are proud of the fact that they do not use any pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. After watching a hungry hoard of Japanese beetles annihilate my roses this year, I had to ask, “how on earth do you manage not to use any of those?” John laughed and said simply, “Grow enough for everybody,” bugs and critters included.
All the produce grown at River to River Farm are heirloom varieties, each carefully chosen for the best flavor. They grow Hickory King heirloom corn and grind it themselves into fresh cornmeal. Aside from several heirloom tomatoes, this year they grew a French cantaloupe that was small but intensely sweet. They also grew Sugar Baby pumpkins and a sweet watermelon perfect for a family of 4. And of course, my 2 favorites: baby ginger and turmeric.
Check out their website for more details about where to find their produce and what they have all throughout the year: River to River Farm.
Fresh Turmeric & Baby Ginger
It was Chris’s idea to grow both of these and since they started 6 years ago, they’ve been wildly popular. To the best of their knowledge, they are the only farm south of Hwy. 64 that grow ginger and turmeric.
Their turmeric and ginger seed stock comes from Hawaii. These rhizomes (knobby roots) have never been in the ground. They’ve been carefully grown in coconut husks to avoid microbiological infection and disease. In order to maintain the highest quality John and Tam order a fresh shipment of seed stock each year. John says, it’s a little more costly, but the quality of these roots make it worth it.
Cooking with Ginger and Turmeric
I asked John and Chris what was their favorite way of incorporating ginger and turmeric into their cooking. Chris likes to pickle with turmeric. He also seasons rice with both of them and adds turmeric to many of his soups. John enjoys turmeric in scrambled eggs, stir fry, curry and uses it to spice up lamb kabobs. He also recommended grating fresh baby ginger into your favorite gingersnap cookie recipe in place of dried ginger powder. Recently I posted an anti-inflammatory Turmeric Tonic which is mighty tasty!
They also just started selling the ginger fronds to a St. Louis restaurant for them to use behind their bar. Here’s a turmeric infused martini.
If you’re in the central southern Illinois area I highly recommend looking into joining the LEAF farmers’ market. And just so you know this is not a promotion post and I’m not a paid affiliate for LEAF. I love what they’re doing and the dedicated farmers who bring us such an amazing variety of products and produce.