Whether a farmer, chef or consumer, don’t you want your produce to be delicious, better for you and to stay fresh for longer? Well, world-renowned author and chef, Dan Barber, whose farm-to-table restaurants include the highly regarded Blue Hill in New York City and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in upstate New York, agrees. That’s why he’s on a mission to change the world of vegetables — one seed at a time.
After coming to the realization that the best-tasting vegetables aren’t bred for hardiness and therefore aren’t lucrative for farmers to grow, Barber decided to team up with vegetable seed breeders to grow new, tastier varieties of vegetables that are meant to be more flavorful, in addition to lasting longer than the ones on the market today.
For example, Barber is a particular fan of the heirloom variety of tomato, but unlike a regular tomato that can stay fresh despite long truck rides from farm to kitchen, heirloom tomatoes turn bad quickly and often have lower yields for farmers. This means it doesn’t make financial sense for farmers to grow them.
Unfortunately, in the world of breeders, yield, shelf life and uniformity are prioritized over more important things, like nutrition. Enter Row 7, “a seed company dedicated to deliciousness,” says its site.
Seven years ago, Barber challenged vegetable breeder Michael Mazourek to make a butternut squash taste better, and it was the first time Mazourek had ever been asked to breed for flavor. Barber and Mazourek, along with Matthew Goldfarb, another seed grower and co-founder of Fruition Seeds, joined forces to launch Row 7 this past February.
The company currently offers a selection of seeds “produced without synthetic chemicals and selected for organic systems,” the site states. “These methods create strong, resilient plants capable of fending for themselves, without a cocktail of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Stronger plants literally are tastier plants.”
In addition to being 100 percent certified organic and grown in the U.S., the seeds are non-GMO. Row 7 utilizes cross-pollination and “selection complemented by modern technology” to grow seeds that produce vegetables that are meant to taste superior while being better for you.
“Think: potatoes so creamy you don’t need butter,” contests Row 7. “A squash so packed with flavor, it doesn’t require maple syrup to make it delicious.”
The goal? To sell seeds that are easy to grow, nutritious and advantageous for seed diversity and affordability, from the start of the growing process to the end of it.
How beautiful is this grilled cucumber?
Row 7 currently features seven types of seeds: badger flame beet, robin’s koginut squash, habanada pepper, upstate abundance potato, 898 squash, 7082 cucumber and butternut 661. Moreover, the website features growing guides with everything you need to know about the seed. From its scientific name to field notes like soil requirements and what type of produce to expect, it’s all in the guide.
The website also offers foodies recipes such as smashed upstate abundance potatoes with chili oil, 898 puree and squash skin crumble and grilled 7082 cucumbers with fried dill.
I know I’ve been excited to cook with ripe, undeniably delicious vegetables bought from a farmer’s market only to have my enthusiasm deflated when my beautiful bounty goes bad. Hopefully, Row 7 will solve this issue for all of us vegetable lovers!
Anyone thinking of trying out Row 7? We want to hear how it goes!