Friday, May 24, 2013

Dominick Haynes

By Kasey Jones
Dominick Haynes has the canopy and a table full of produce like other vendors at the Jonesborough Farmers Market. He has the chalkboard sign and he can talk about his produce like any of his fellow farmers. Unlike his fellow farmers, Haynes is 15 years old – and this is his sixth year as a vendor at the Jonesborough market. 

The Jonesborough native is a freshman at University School. His decision to begin gardening was largely influenced by his father, Dan, who has had a garden for as long as Haynes can remember. “My Dad told me I always liked to play in the dirt – since I was at least 2 years old,” he says.

Haynes first began gardening on his own when he was 9. A neighbor plowed the empty lot next to Haynes’ house and offered him some garden space. Haynes began planting and when his crops were ready for harvest, they were bountiful. He sold the excess at the farmers market during its very first season in 2008.

“Once he sold the first tomato, he was hooked” say parents Dan and Mimi Haynes. 
He has been a regular, full-season vendor at the market ever since.

Haynes works hard to balance school and gardening while pursuing other interests, such as golf and skiing. It isn’t always easy. Haynes estimates he spends an average of 12 hours in his garden each week. Depending on the weather and his homework load, the number of hours that he spends outside may increase. 

“Sometimes I’m up until 10 p.m. doing homework,” said Haynes. “Then it’s dark, so I installed a spotlight so I can work after dark if I have to – especially when the days get shorter.”

Haynes spends most of his time in the garden either planting or weeding. “Weeding especially,” he said. “Weeds are very prevalent around here. I have to make [my garden] look nice so that if someone comes by they don’t see crazy 3-foot-tall weeds.” 

Haynes is doing extra duty in the garden right now to prepare for the May 25 Garden Gala, when his will be one of the featured gardens on the tour. “I’ve been on the garden tour before,” he says. “ It’s great. I love to talk to people about my garden.”

Tomatoes, peppers, root vegetables, strawberries, cabbage, leeks, greens, herbs and potatoes populate Haynes’ garden. “A little bit of everything,” he said. “I even grew cotton once, just to see if I could.” 

He also enjoys growing sweet potatoes, because “it’s fun to dig them up and see what you’ve grown.” 
Last year, Haynes grew all the leeks that were served at the Farm to Table Dinner.  New for this year?  “I’m growing lettuce for the first time,” he says with a grin, “and it’s selling really well.”

Kohlrabi or German cabbage is a vegetable that Haynes grew by request. “One of my customers asked for it, and gave me some seeds,” he says. 

The first seeds didn’t grow well, but eventually Haynes found plants to start with and he now raises kohlrabi for a growing base of customers.

This year, the cool spring weather has slowed the garden’s progress a little, but Haynes expects to have some kohlrabi at the market in the next couple of weeks.

While Haynes sells the majority of his vegetables, he is particular about the quality of his product. “I eat the ones that aren’t perfect,” Haynes says. “If it has a small spot on it I won’t sell it.

“But there will always be countless tomatoes like that, so our family eats those. We don’t have to go and buy a lot of vegetables during the summer months.”

Recipe:  Kohlrabi Sautee
What is Kohlrabi?
Martha Stewart living describes it this way: “the texture of a radish with the sweetness of a jicama, and a slight hint of broccoli, and the leaves are like mild collards.” Use the bulb chopped raw in salads, tossed with salt and olive oil and baked, or sautéed as suggested in the following recipe.
Cook cubes of peeled kohlrabi and thinly sliced white onion in unsalted butter over medium-high heat until almost tender. Stir in finely shredded kohlrabi leaves and cook until wilted. Add a generous splash of heavy cream, and cook for a few seconds to reduce. Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. 
Serve with chicken, pork chops, or steak.

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