In 1989, Karen and Joe Hoff bought a large property outside of Mt. Horeb with no intention of farming commercially. However, the property came with a large backyard garden and they decided to continue to grow a small amount of vegetables, as the previous owners had. Much to their surprise, the garden produced an immense amount of produce, and the Hoffs found themselves with more food than they knew what to do with. In an effort to prevent the food from going to waste, they decided to join the The Salad Garden.
The Hoffs enjoyed selling at the farmers' market, but they both considered it just a hobby. The following spring, they built a hoop house on their property in order to start the plants for their garden earlier. History repeated itself, though, and the Hoffs found that they now had more plants than they could use in their garden. This prompted them to begin selling potted plants at the farmers' market early in the season, before produce from the garden became available. Over the next few years, the business continued. Eventually Karen and Joe quit their jobs and began to pursue gardening full-time.
Today, the Salad Garden Greenhouses consists of four acres of potatoes and asparagus, and one acre of greenhouses, which are used to grow tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, and leeks. In addition to selling produce, the Hoffs also sell ornamental grasses, which have become increasingly popular in the last few years. One of the most popular varieties is Spiral Rush, which Karen describes as "a funky, unique plant that always gets attention."
The Salad Garden is located on South Pinckney Street at the Saturday market, as well as at the Wednesday market and directly from their farm at 313 Highway 78 outside Mt. Horeb.
The Daily Page: What product do you wish you grew?
Karen Hoff: We used to grow garlic, and really enjoyed it. We've talked about bringing it back. It's an easy crop, and besides being delicious, it's nutritious too.
What's your secret to great products?
Raising plants and asparagus/potatoes is all we do, so we give it our full attention. We want to know our customers are getting the best product for their dollar. We ask ourselves, "would we buy this?"
Can you share a recipe?
We think our red potatoes are some of the tastiest. The sandy soil on our farm produces beautiful spuds, and we eat lots of them. We start bringing them to market around mid-June. This recipe combines our red potatoes and our aromatic rosemary plants.
The recipe is:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1 lb. "new" red potatoes, unpeeled
2 T. olive oil
1/4 tsp. each, sea salt and black pepper
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 T. finely chopped rosemary leaves
Scrub potatoes clean and cut into quarters. Combine with remaining ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Toss to thoroughly coat potatoes. Pour into a shallow roasting pan, making a single layer. Bake about one hour, turning once or twice.