Interview with Laddie Hall of Long Meadow Ranch

How did you get started in farming and farmers markets?
It started like a children’s lemonade stand. We had a family garden that became so abundant that it was more than we could consume. Kids are always looking for ways to earn money, so I asked the children if they would be interested in selling at the St. Helena Farmers Market. I had to drive them there because they were 12 and 9, and I quickly learned that I shouldn’t stay at the table.

When did you start selling at the Napa Farmers Market?
We have been selling at the Napa Farmers Market since 2012. Initially we weren’t sure we had enough product. But my husband, Ted, got involved in the Local Food Forum, and about that time we started growing more produce for our Farmstead restaurant. The Local Food Forum was all about encouraging people to buy local, and I said to Ted, “We should step up and attend the Napa market. We are a local grower, and we should be there.” Now I sometimes have to beg the restaurant for produce.

Tell us about an under-appreciated fruit or vegetable that you bring to the market?
Beet greens!  A lot of people want us to cut off the beet tops, and I try to encourage them to keep them. They’re so wonderful. Eat them before you cook the beets because the beets will last longer. And, personally, I have come around to collards if they’re not overcooked. I like them prepared like chard or kale.

What are you cooking right now?
I made eggplant parmigiana for dinner last night for the first time in a long time. Ted loves eggplant. I just used the traditional purple eggplant, but we also have a striped Italian variety and the Japanese long types And I’ve been doing a lot of frittatas with our eggs and zucchini.