A brief history of our farm

a brief history of the farm

Written in April of 2009: Please note that  Starlight Gardens has been running for 16 years!


Welcome to the 10th year anniversary of our farm. Can't believe it has been that long since old organic farmer Hyman Scrilowitz convinced us that we just had to go visit this guy in Maine who practiced the idea of season extension with the use of high tunnel, unheated greenhouses. That, of course, was Elliot Coleman. When we visited him, we knew so little that we couldn't even think of questions to ask; the visit was inspiring but brief.

While more or less hanging on to our day jobs for a bit, we  started to build a greenhouse or two--- in November and December. The cold mud and snow didn't stop us. We planted our first crop of salad greens-- mizuna, tatsoi, spinach and kale at the beginning of February and made our first buck on April 9,1999.

By then we had built four high tunnels-- each 30 x 98. David started calling and visiting mostly fancy restaurants on  the CT shore and north up to Hartford. We started working with quite a few wonderful places--The Copper Beech in Ivoryton, Cafe Routier in Westbrook, Trumbell Kitchen and other restaurants in the Max Group, and Middletown's Its Only Natural, to name a few. For the first 4 or 5 years our business was built solely around restaurants. We continue to have the privilege of getting to know and work with many talented and extremely hard working chefs.

Then all of a sudden there came the wave of excitement about eating organic- and especially fresh and locally grown food. And farmer markets became the new thing.  We look back now laughing at the way we went kicking and screaming when begged by Jennifer McTiernan to  join the then brand new City Seed Farmers Market at Wooster Square, New Haven. Now it is celebrating its 6th year and has become an important part of our business and a place where not only is our produce received with enthusiasm but where we have made many friendships with our customers over the past 6 years.

Now, in addition to our wonderful restaurant customers, we also go to numerous farmers markets each season. At the markets we have become known especially for the wide variety of salad greens that we grow. Some are by now quite well known, like mizuna and tatsoi. Others are still "new " to our area, such as the deliously hot and spicy golden frill mustard green. We like to let shoppers mix and match to put their own salad mixes together.

Salad greens were the original base of the farm, but a few years in, we got interested in growing heirloom tomatoes. In the summer, the  greens are grown outside and initially we looked for a way to make the empty high tunnels useful in summer. Well, that we certainly did. Now four houses are planted every summer season- with over 30 varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  David has been dubbed the Tomato King and the Tomato Scientist by our farmers market customers. Apparently a few folks even do good imitations of him talking about particular varieties of heirlooms.