Well known for their bedding plants, George and Tanya Kohn of West Star Farm offer a wide variety of produce through the season at the Dane County Farmers' Market. Along with the flowers and herb, their booth on South Pinckney Street boasts seasonal certified organic fruits and vegetables, including heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, onions, peppers, garlic, potatoes, squashes, and their specialty crop, salsify.
Vending at the downtown market for a decade, West Star Farm operates a CSA, and holds an on-farm market in its restored barn on Thursday afternoons through the latter half of the season. Its products can also be found at the Westside Community Market, the Willy Street Co-op, and Whole Foods, as well as on the menu at L'Etoile, Harvest, and Bradbury's.
The Daily Page: How did you become a farmers' market vendor?
Ten years ago we were a new and relatively small grower. As native Madisonians, we knew the Dane County Farmers' Market would be a great channel to start selling our products. We applied and waited a few years before getting accepted. The atmosphere of the market is really what draws us. Every week we look forward to going to the market and meeting new people and talking with repeat customers and vendors.
What else do you offer through the summer season?
We have an on-farm market Thursday afternoons starting June 18, where we will offer whatever is in season. Some offerings include beans, beets, broccoli, celeriac, greens, cabbage, carrots, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, peas, peppers, and radishes.
What's your most popular product? What's your most remarked upon offering?
When selling bedding plants, all our tomato varieties and our bell pepper plants are very popular. When selling produce, our garlic, sweet corn and strawberries are the most popular.
What's your favorite product elsewhere at the market?
Stella's Cheese Bread is a favorite of ours, also any of the cheese curd or mushroom vendors.
What's your pre-packaged, supermarket-shelved guilty pleasure?
Annie's Macaroni & Cheese, or any kind of chocolate bar.
If you were to make a dish incorporating your products, what would you make?
The recipe is:
4 cups shredded salsify
2 cups shredded carrots
1 tsp. vinegar
4 Tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Corn & Wheat Flour
Cover salsify in cold water. Add vinegar and salt. Bring to boil and cook (covered) for 15-20 minutes or until tender enough to mash. Add carrots and drain thoroughly. Mash salsify and carrots together, adding pepper, one-tablespoon butter, one egg, sautéed onion and garlic. Form into flat patties 1-3 inches in diameter. Dredge lightly with flour. Cook in remaining butter. Makes 12-24 patties, or 6 servings. To spice it up, add cayenne pepper, parsley, thyme or oregano.