With the marking of the summer solstice earlier this week, a new season has begun! While still awaiting some of our summertime favorites, the abundance of fruits and sun loving veggies, there are still a variety of other goodies to choose from at the markets. One farm that offers goodness currently and all year round is the Root Seller. With products such as maple syrup and sugar, an assortment of beans, wheat berries, potatoes, and onions, the Root Seller offers wholesome ingredients for a range of delicious dishes. (New potatoes will be available by the Fourth of July, just in time for the perfect potato salad to bring to the cookout! Onions can be expected to seen being sold at the stall in August.)
The Root Seller is located in Nottingham, NH on 130 acres of conserved land owned by Susan and Dan Comte. When asked how the Root Seller decided on cultivating and selling dried beans and their other assortments, Susan replied that they wanted other types of non-perishables to accompany the maple syrup they were selling. The Root Seller uses a three-year crop rotation of potatoes, wheat, and beans, to aid in pest management and soil fertility. Of the beans, black turtle and pinto are the easiest to grow, while flageolet, as Susan puts it, is “finicky but a great seller.”
The Root Seller started back when Susan and Dan were active wood-fire potters and started gardening and tapping maple trees in the backyard with their three boys, Tyler, Andrew, and Anthony, whom have been helping out on the farm ever since. Susan reminisced that sugaring has always been a family favorite, with being able to spend time outside during the cold months and making sugar on snow with the kids. The Root Seller has grown since then, with now approximately 1300 maple trees in production this past sugaring season!
I used their maple syrup and hard red winter wheat berries to make a delightful grain salad with grapes, almonds, and McKenzie’s Farm cucumber. Wheat berries are similar to what you can buy at the grocery store as “farro” (the connection between the two is complicated – see the link below if you’re interested in learning more). Also attached below are the directions on how to cook the wheat berries, and the recipe for the maple vinaigrette.
To prepare the grain salad, combine the cooked wheat berries (1 cup uncooked), with 1 ½ -2 cups of washed red grapes, ½ a cucumber diced, and toss with enough dressing to coat and to your liking (I ended up doubling the vinaigrette recipe and using about 3/4th of it). Toast 1/4 cup sliced almonds over medium heat in a dry pan until slightly brown and aromatic. Serve the salad with a sprinkling of the toasted almonds. Bon appetit!
For more recipe ideas on how to prepare The Root Seller’s scrumptious ingredients, ask Susan at the market for her favorite recipes to take home such as white bean hummus, maple barbecued ribs, and old-fashioned rhubarb shortcake. Catch Susan on Tuesdays at the Rochester market from 3:30-6:30, and Thursdays at the Somersworth market from 3:00-6:00.
Learning more about wheat berries vs. farro:
How to prepare wheat berries: