Monday, April 07, 2014

Landraces: Peppers, squash and nasturtium

We have a new kickstarter project.  It's all about landraces.  Peppers.  Squash.  Nasturtium.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Open House at the Sunol AgPark

Our "Artisan" series of cherry tomatoes -- Available from Johnny's

Sunol AgPark Spring Open House

We will be participating in an Open-House at the Sunol AgPark (our farming location) Saturday May 3rd from 1-5PM.  There will be assorted farm activities available that day.  We will be leading an edible flower tour.  Many of the participating farms will also have assorted seedlings for sale.  We will be selling seedlings of some of our unique tomato varieties (see above).

We will also be selling seedlings (from our greenhouse) on Monday afternoons in May -- starting Monday May 5th.  More info. will be available as the date gets closer.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Farm Stand and Farmers' Market Update

Highland Kale -- Available now!

Announcement 1:  Our Menlo Park farmers' market stand and our Sunol farm stand are closed until July when our main summer crops become available.

Announcement 2:  Customers interested in spring and early summer produce may email us (click link in our profile) and arrange for a local pick-up in Sunol.  

Currently Available Produce (arranged pick-up only):  Highland Kale, Spigariello, Pea shoots, Arugula Flowers, Mustard Flowers, Radish Flowers, Nasturtium flowers, Nasturtium shoots and leaves, White Borage Flowers, Yuzu Leaves, Shingiku (Edible Chrysanthemum), Persian Mint
Menlo Park Farmers' Market:  Open Sundays from 9AM to 1PM (July to October)

Sunol Farm Stand:  Open from 1PM to 3PM on Mondays.  (July to October) Located next to the Sunol Water Temple.

Note:  We will likely be selling Artisan Tomato seedlings, bred on our farm, on Monday afternoons, later this spring.  Details to come.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New collaboration with Viridis Aquaponics

Viridis Aquaponics in Watsonville is an innovative leader in the exciting new field of aquaponics.  We are pleased to announce that we are partnering with Viridis to expand and enhance our year-round tomato breeding program, and that Viridis will be producing our tomato varieties for specialty markets 365 days a year!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Artisan Tomatoes now available online!

The "Artisan Tomato Collection" now available at Johnny's

Seven of our striped cherry tomatoes are now available at Johnny's Selected Seeds.  They are available individually, and together in the Artisan Tomato Collection.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Johnny's announces R & D Partnership with Artisan Seeds

All seven Artisan cherry tomatoes available at Johnny's

Johnny's Selected seeds has announced it's relationship with Artisan Seeds here, in the context of a discussion of their trialing and selecting process.

These tomatoes, the first fruits of our R & D relationship with Johnny's, will be available starting November 19th.

Our collaboration continues, and there will be more exciting varieties released in the coming years.  Stay tuned.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Artisan Seeds announcement

Three years ago FrogsLeap Farm and Baia Nicchia Farm started a very successful joint-venture, breeding tomatoes.  At this juncture, however, the two farms have decided to focus on different areas and that the best way to further develop and release new varieties is to dissolve the joint venture, and breed/release lines independently.  The two farms will continue to collaborate on some projects of common interest.  The "Artisan Seeds" brand will be carried forward by Baia Nicchia Farm which will assume all rights and contractual responsibilities related to the brand.  FrogsLeap Farm will release new varieties independent of Artisan Seeds.  Progress at FrogsLeap Farm may be followed at, and on the Frogsleap Farm Facebook page and progress at Baia Nicchia may be followed at, and on the Artisan Seeds Facebook page.   

Friday, May 10, 2013

A growing family

Son of Blush:  Lucky Tiger

Our breeding program really got going with Maglia Rosa.  Then Maglia Rosa was used to create Blush, and now Blush now lends many of it's genes to it's offspring, Lucky Tiger

Lucky Tiger will be available exclusively this fall from Johnny's Selected Seeds.

For more info on our breeding, follow our Artisan Seeds blog and/or our Artisan Seeds Facebook page.

New Grey Dog Tea blend available

We have a new tea blend available -- A complex, robust, smooth blend for morning wake-up.  Premium Breakfast is now available at

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bumble Bee Buzz -- Grafting!

Bumble Bees (New from Artisan Seeds)  Photograph by Aaron Whaley

Pink Bumble Bee and Purple Bumble Bee are now available as grafted plants from Garden Life.  The Bumble Bees are also available this coming year from our collaborators at Log House Plants and Plug Connection.

Artisan Seeds is currently selling these Bees at and next fall bulk quantities of seed will be available from AP Whaley Seed

Friday, October 26, 2012

The story of Blush continues...

Blush:  Masterminded by Alex.  This tomato spawned a "rule" of breeding that we live by.

Blush was recently a taste-test winner in Pennyslvania.  Check out the tally sheet from the Franklin County Master Gardener's taste test (September 11, 2012)

Our julienne cherry tomato -- Blush -- was created when Alex (age 8 at the time) decided to cross his two favorite tomatoes.  It has been turning heads ever since.

Blush has also been very important as a parent line:  A few years ago, when we had accumulated a group of round, striped cherry tomatoes, they looked great, but didn't compete with Blush in flavor.  What did we do?  We held them back, and crossed every single one to Blush.  We think it was worth it, and now you can decide if you agree, because some of Blush's descendents are now available.

A little more history:  The year that the cross that created Blush was made, Alex participated in setting up crosses for our annual winter crossing list.  He chose 3 of the 19 crosses to be made that year, after the other 16 had been established (by a PhD-holding plant breeder with big plans).  The striking outcome is that about 90% of the value from that year came from Alex's 3 crosses.  The progeny from his crosses continue to permeate most everything we are doing.  

What was Alex's breeding secret?  He crossed his favorite tomatoes.

He didn't try to "fix" cool looking, but poor tasting, varieties.  He picked his 4 favorite tomatoes and suggested 3 crosses.  The striking results from that year spawned "Alex's Rule" of tomato breeding:  Cross tomatoes that taste great with other tomatoes that taste great -- because it is hard to get a mediocre-tasting tomato from two parents who taste great. 

Friday, July 06, 2012

Premium Frying Pepper Mix

Our 2012 Frying Pepper Mix
Includes Mareko Fana (Ethiopia), Dolce di Minervino (Italy), Padron (Spain), Aleppo (Syria), Ahi Amarillo (Peru) & Ahi Colorado (Peru)

Friday, March 02, 2012

Potimarron and Potimarron Jeune

Potimarron Jeune

Potimarron (Chestnut Pumpkin)

A few years ago we were filling some boxes of mixed summer squash for a restaurant customer. We didn't have quite enough, so we started tasting the immature winter squash, to see if any of them could fill in, in a pinch.

One of the winter squash varieties we were growing, Potimarron, did more than just fill in. It was better than any of the zucchini and patty pan already in the boxes. The flavor is clean, without bitterness, and the squash can be eaten like apples. On the other hand, there is a depth of flavor that standard summer squash do not have. Finally, the flesh is fine grained and dense, so squash can be grilled, souped and steamed. Light cooking is fine, because there is no bitterness to vanquish.

Over time, we have pretty much stopped growing summer squash. Instead, we harvest young Potimarron (Potimarron Jeune), and sell it as summer squash.

Potimarron, is also one of the main winter squash we sell. It is unparalleled for use in soups, and the soft orange skin can be pureed into the soup -- no peeling necessary. In fact, the skin is where much of the chestnut flavor is located.

People seem to be catching on to this squash. Last month, when we went to order seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, they did not have any bulk packages left. We were forced to buy lots of individual seed packets. So, if you want to try this variety this year, you may want to order seeds today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Stroke of Luck

Captain Lucky (photo by S. Anderson)

Green-When-Ripe beefsteak tomatoes like Cherokee Green and Malachite Box are crazy good. Their flavor is out-of-this-world. One reason they are not already featured on menus as prominently as Cherokee Purple and other beefsteak superstars is that they are hard to get from farm to chef efficiently. Because the optimum picking window is marked by very subtle color and softening changes, even the best picking crew will pick large amounts of under-ripe or too-soft tomatoes. The under-ripe ones usually never attain full flavor, and the soft ones can not be boxed, shipped and sold in time.

The super-hero tomato that fixes this problem, and may well bring green-when-ripe beefsteaks to the general populace is Captain Lucky.

Captain Lucky is a relatively new variety bred by Millard Murdock in North Carolina. It is essentially a green-when-ripe tomato that has a bit of surface color and marbling -- and this color gives a small farmers like us the cues we need to harvest it efficiently, at just the right time! We will be selling Captain Lucky fruits this summer, and packets of seeds next fall and winter when we launch the Artisan Seeds online store.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mareko Fana Diversity

Some Mareko Fana peppers are red. Most are brown.

Mareko Fana comes in many shapes.

The Mareko Fana that Menkir Tamrat brought us two years ago is probably best characterized as a "land race". Some are short, some are long. Most are brown but some are red. Most are thick-fleshed, but some are thin-skinned and delicate.

We are going to be evaluating and playing around with the diversity of our populations for a long time to come. However, in the short term we are selecting for two types of Mareko Fana:

Mareko Fana: Brown and thick-fleshed. Excellent for making Berbere spice. We typically use these mature, and dry them before use.

Mareko Fana Red: Red, thin-skinned and delicate. Fantastic as a frying pepper. We typically pick many of these young, and sell (or eat) them as frying peppers. The taste is mild when they are young.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Directions to the farm

Location of our farm in Sunol

Red arrow indicates 4-way stop sign. Blue dot is the Sunol Water Temple. Yellow rectangle is our field.

We farm adjacent to the Sunol Water Temple (as part of the Sunol AgPark), and we hold small hands-on workshops at our farm site.  Upcoming workshops are listed at

General tours, educational events and school visits to the site are coordinated by SAGE.