Time passes and things change. Bittersweet news this week that this Saturday May 27, 2023 will be the last day at the Matthews Farmers Market for SC farmer, and my long time friend, Mindy Robinson of Tega Hills Farm. Mindy and her late husband Mark, built Tega Hills Farm into a well-known hydroponic farm featuring lettuces, greens and microgreens, year round. They also are well-known for tomatoes, cucumbers and a zillion ( or close to that) varieties of peppers in season. It all started 20+ years ago, and since that time, Tega Hills Farm has become a mainstay at the Matthews Market.
As many of you are aware, Mark passed away almost a year ago, in June 2022. As Mindy explains, it was Mark’s passion and enthusiasm for growing produce, as well as his ability to design growing systems and fix just about anything, that kept Tega Hills Farm going for the past two decades. Mindy quickly became the face of the farm, chatting with Matthews Farmers Market goers on Saturdays at the Tega Hills Farm table. Then, during the week, manned the farm store on Zoar Road , as she and Mark raised their family of three; and worked the farm.
Much needed updates to equipment and structures on the farm have missed Mark’s “Mcgiver” touch this past year and the maintenance coupled with the farms day to day planting and harvesting schedule has gotten too much for Mindy to handle alone. And so, she has decided to close her farm’s hydroponic lettuce and microgree operations at the end of May. While its all understandable, it is also sad to say, this Saturday, May 27, 2023 – will be Tega Hills Farm’s last day at the Matthews Community Farmers Market.
In this week’s issue of the Matthews Market email newsletter, Mindy collectively thanked her longtime market customers.
My daughter Martha was a six-month-old baby the first season I sold produce at the market, and she has grown up spending almost every Saturday at the market. Seeing the good people at the Matthews Market has felt like seeing family each week, and we will miss you! Your commitment to consistently buying our produce made it possible for Mark and me to work together on our farm, raise our three children, and contribute to our community in many ways. Thank you for all your support for the past 21 years.Mindy Robinson, Tega Hills Farm
The Silver Lining at Tega Hills Farm
And then, in a social media post on instagram this morning, Mindy shared the plan for the family farm she will continue to call her home.
Although I am closing the lettuce and microgreens part of the farm at the end of May, our friend Daniel will continue to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans, broccolini and SQUASH BLOOMS through the summer! Tega Hills Farm will continue to have stand hours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from noon until 5 p.m. Check our instagram each week to find out what tasty produce will be available!Mindy Robinson, Tega Hills Farm
Good Memories and Great Friends
One of the things I love so much about all I do when I pitch shopping local is the people. At every turn, it is the relationships that make the local produce and proteins so important. Over the years I have developed friendships with tons of individual local farmers. These folks are not just my farmers, they are my friends.
In and around 2015-16-ish – maybe even before – when I decided to start my series of On the Farm cooking classes at local area farms, Mindy and Mark were one of the first farms to jump in feet first and embrace my novel idea.
They let me come in with everything it took to set up a makeshift kitchen in the middle of a greenhouse. Mark ran electricity everywhere it needed to be and together they we’re ready to join in on all the fun!
The two hosted the farm tour portion of the class. Then, chatted and laughed with class participants as we got started with all the cooking. The idea was to show people how to cook everything the farm produced. A new hands-on way for folks to learn more about where their food comes from. I must say, it worked and I loved every minute. During class, customers would shop with Mindy who would pick for each order as the class was in session.
In the early years, Mindy and Mark’s daughter Martha would play the harp during the class. I wish I had a photo or a video to share here. I can tell you it’s a memory I hold dear.
She played for tips and wowed the crowds. After all, who wouldn’t love a rousing rendition of Three Blind Mice on the harp. Especially along side a lovely hydroponic lettuce salad, topped with fried green tomatoes?
Class participants would go home with recipes and market baskets of local harvest from the farm. I miss those days more than I could ever explain.
Lots of Ways to Eat Your Local Greens
Sharing a trio of recipes today in celebration of all the delicious Tega Hills Farm memories. Enjoy them all.
And don’t forget, this summer go visit the Farm Store, located at 1780 Zoar Road to shop local for tomatoes, cukes, peppers, squash blossoms and more. #TellThemHeidiSentYou
Tega Hills Farm Green Smoothie
- 3 cups Tega Hill Farms Butter Lettuce packed tight
- 1 bag Tega Hills Farm Cilantro Microgreens
- 1/4 cup fresh Tega Hills Farm mint leaves packed tight
- 2 cups unsweetened coconut water
- 1/2 cup organic pineapple juice
- 3 cups fresh organic pineapple, chilled and chopped
- the juice of one lime
- 1 frozen banana cut into bite sized pieces before freezing (This is Oprional but the addition will make the smoothie thicker and creamier)
In a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade, blend the lettuce, mint, and coconut water until smooth.
Add the pineapple and lime juice, blend to mix.
; finally add the frozen banana and blend until smooth and thick.
Enjoy this delicious way to drink your greens
Tega Hills Farm Avocado Salsa Salad
For the salsa:
- 1-2 Tega Hills Farm chiles or peppers, thinly sliced
- 12 Tega Hills Farm cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 3 ripe avocado, seeded, peeled and sliced or chopped
- 3 ripe Local peaches, peeled and cut into slices
- 1/4 cup Olive Crate’s Kores Estate extra-virgin olive oil This is my go-to EVOO, find it at olivecrate.com
- Juice of 1 lime
- Sea Love Sea Salt and Heidi’s Black Pepper Blend
For the salad:
- 2 heads of your favorite Tega Hills Farm Lettuces
- 1 bag Tega Hills Farm cilantro microgreens
- 1 cup Uno Alla Volta Cottage Cheese available at the Matthews Farmers Market
Chop chilies or peppers and tomatoes and combine in a bowl with the sliced peaches and the cubes or slices of avocado.
Arrange Tega Hills Farm lettuce leaves on individual salad plates.
Top mixed lettuces with the salsa. Garnish with microgreen cilantro and serve as is or with chips on the side.
This is also delicious topped with grilled chicken or shrimp. Great for summertime entertaining.
Stuffed Tega Hills Farm Squash Blossoms
For the Squash Blossoms:
- 1/2 cup Uno Alla Volta plain ricotta Available at the Matthews Farmers Market
- 1 local egg Duck or chicken eggs both work well.
- 1-2 cups Verdant Bread bread crumbs ground fine. You ca do this your self by placing a couple of slices of your favorite Verdant Bread in the food processor and making your own bread crumbs.
- 2 Tbsp Your Best Jam Ever Jam pineapple jalapeno jam Available at the Matthews Farmers Market
- 6-8 squash blossoms from Tega Hills Farm
Mix together ricotta, egg, bread crumbs and jam.
Carefully and gently pull the stamen out of eachsquash blossom.
Fill a small plastic pastry bag with the cheese mixture( or you can use a zip lock bag the same way – just cut off one of the cornersto serve as the “tip” of the bag) Or you can just use your fingers or a spoon
Carefully stuff the blossoms with the cheese mixture.Twist the tips of each petal together to seal.
Bake the stuffed blossoms in a preheated 350 degree ovenfor about 20 minutes.
Serve over a plate lined with thin sliced Tega Hills Farm cucumbers.
Top with your favorite Tega Hills Farm microgreens and Enjoy!