Sandwiched between Torch Lake and Lake Michigan, organic farmers Andrea and Ryan Romeyn and their four children grow vegetables, raise pastured livestock and harvest hay on 100 bucolic acres at Providence Farm in Central Lake. With peak season fast approaching, we sit down with the Romeyns to talk about supporting farmers, growing the best carrots and the virtues of the watermelon radish.

What’s the best way to support local farmers?

Ryan: Think about how your food dollars are spent. Every dollar you spend at a farm stand or farmers market brings life into that farm and supports the family behind it. It may cost a few dollars more but we’re trying to grow healthy organic vegetables, pay our staff well and develop a sustainable business.

Does Providence have a signature vegetable?

Andrea: We’re proud of everything we grow but nothing shines quite like our carrots. We’ve had chefs tell us that they’re the best carrots they’ve ever eaten.

What makes those carrots so delicious?

Ryan: It really starts with the base soil and we’re careful to rotate and cultivate it in a way that doesn’t introduce too many nutrients. Some level of stress allows the plant to work a little harder and that makes for more intense flavors.

We know how to handle carrots. What’s an unsung vegetable that deserves more attention?

Andrea: Radishes. In particular purple daikon and watermelon radishes. The color is so vibrant and they have a great crunchy texture and a sweet, peppery taste.

The two best ways to eat a watermelon radish?

Andrea: Slice them raw and dip them in white bean hummus or green goddess dip. We also love to make radish butter to spread on freshly baked bread. Soften and whip two sticks of butter with the juice and zest from half a lemon and fold in one bunch of finely diced radish.

Traverse food and drinks editor Tim Tebeau writes from Petoskey. Dave Weidner is a freelance photographer based in Traverse City.

Farming & Agriculture

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner