Tomatoes ripe at Wednesday market
Gaston farm provides Oregon Star variety in Forest Grove
To-may-toes, to-mah-toes however you pronounce the red ripe fruit, youre missing out if you havent tasted an Oregon Star tomato from Gaston's Flamingo Ridge Farm, which can be found at the Forest Grove Farmers Market, a program of the nonprofit Adelante Mujeres.
In 1984, Charlie Harris, the farmer behind Flamingo Ridge, moved to Oregon looking for a new life. I felt the potential here, he said, and with that, in 1986 Flamingo Ridge was born.
Harris grows a variety of vegetables, but he is best known for his tomatoes. The Oregon Star variety, which were first developed at Oregon State University in the mid-1980s, come in all shapes and sizes. Each one offers a delicious, meaty texture with no seeds. Harris farms using only organic methods. Its not because its trendy, its because thats how I grow, he said. However, after the government got involved in the organic certification process, Harris said he did not care to renew his certification.
Harris is a busy guy, often starting his day at 2 a.m. to make his deliveries to 50 restaurants, Bon Apetit and Portland area Zupans stores. He sells between 165,000 to 200,000 pounds of produce each year, so most weeks his family or friends help by selling at local farmers markets.
Food is like family, and anyone who touches food at any level knows what its like and how much hard work it takes, Harris said.
Much of Harriss success has come from the vast network of friends he has made in the area and thats one of the reasons why he continues to sell at farmer's markets. At the Forest Grove market, people know us, I know people, and its in our backyard. Its nice to be supported by the local community and I try to support this community as much as I can, he said.
Harris was having breakfast with a group of friends when one of them picked up a pink book of matches that read Flamingo Ridge and someone suggested it would be a great business name. Im an impulse kind of guy, and if it feels right then I go with, Harris said, so he ran with it.
Flamingo Ridge tomatoes are available at the Forest Grove Farmers Market from 4 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday through October.Add a comment