I had the pleasure of visiting my friends, Greg & Denise Hoffman at Hoffman Produce Farms. They grow a wide variety of produce from apples to zucchini on about 20 acres of land in Waterloo, IA. The Hoffmans are very well known for living out their mission to, “Provide fresh, sustainable and local produce to the Cedar Valley.” I was able to bring home and use some green onions from Hoffmans to add a different flavor to our beets.
The Hoffman family has been providing the Cedar Valley with quality, fresh produce for several decades. Greg started helping his family as a teenager and Denise has been on board since before they were married. Their 2 sons, also help out around the farm as do a few other employees.
Connecting with Customers
It takes time and dedication to take a seed and cultivate it into something we can eat. When asked what is their favorite part of the whole operation, Greg & Denise both state they like connecting directly with their customers. They find a deep “satisfaction in growing something from seed” into a “product people are excited to see and eat.”
Hoffmans not only grow traditional Iowa fruits and vegetables, but also grow many vegetables immigrants have introduced to them. Many of their customers moved here from other countries and can find familiar vegetables such as Chinese okra, and bitter gourds at Hoffman Produce Farms. Hoffmans also sell a variety of edible and ornamental plants during the spring.
A smile lights up Greg’s face as he tells me about a family from El Salvador who came to the market. The parents were choosing vegetables when their son (about 4 years old) became excited about the Sensitive Plants Hoffmans had for sale. (Sensitive Plant leaves fold up when they are touched and grow abundantly in warmer climates.) The plant reminded him of home and the youngster convinced his dad to buy one. They both agree, connecting with appreciative customers like this makes all the hard work worth it year after year.
Green Onion Versatility
I brought home a basket full of vegetables that didn’t take long to find their way to our plates. I love cooking with onions. They add a savory flare to many of my culinary creations. Green or younger onions add a special flavor and I made good use of these.
I chopped the tops off and dehydrated them to use another time-reducing food waste. I then sliced the bottoms into 1/4 inch discs and added them to the last bag of 2017 beets we had in the freezer. One could use 2 regular cans of beets from the grocery store, too.
These green onions and beets made for a simple, colorful and delicious side. The little bite-sized discs were eye-catching in the sea of red beets. This dish paired well with the chicken thighs my husband seasoned and baked.
Many people like to eat green onions raw, but I find their pungent flavor overpowering. I prefer to cook them in some way, shape or form. Onion tops can be cut off and the bottom part grilled, roasted, sautéed or cut up and added to any number of things that call for onions. Onion tops (which are much milder) are great for adding subtle flavor to any number of vegetables or meats-similar to chives.
Where to Find Hoffman’s Produce
Many thanks to Greg & Denise for these delicious green onions! You can purchase produce from Hoffman Produce Farms at the Cedar Falls Farmer’s Market (on 3rd & Clay Street) on Saturdays from 8:30 am- 12:00 noon until the end of October (with the exception of June 23rd-when there is no market for the Sturgis Falls Festival).
Starting July 21st, you can also go out to their farm at 1011 Martin Road, Waterloo to pick your own produce during their U-Pick sales. U-Pick hours are Saturdays & Sundays from 3-6 pm and Thursdays from 4-6 pm. Check out their Facebook page for updates and more information.
Tell me how you like to fix green onions in the comments. It may inspire a new recipe!