Shoppers spurned unusual vegetable at South Shore Farmers Market

April 1, 2017

By Peggy Platter

Described as “not really a gourd” but “possibly not really a vegetable, at all,” the item that Laurie Marks of Heirloom Gardens Micro Farm couldn’t sell at the 2016 South Shore Farmers Market still rested in her barn for most of the winter. The greenish-blue vegetal form that mysteriously sprang up in her garden near the gourd patch last year recently developed tiny brown rotting spots — typically found on Hubbard, butternut, acorn, Delicata, and other winter squash past their prime — that led her to believe it is in the gourd family. The “gourd” possesses a morphic base resembling a clump of melted wax that tapers down, approximately four inches, into an hourglass shape. Its surface is smooth.

Marks said some customers asked if it was a sculpture. Some muttered an embarrassed “oh, never mind,” when they noticed the stem at the top.
“A lot of people at the farmers market asked me how to cook it or
what to do with it, but I had no idea,” Marks said, examining the vegetal form for the hundredth time. “It was definitely a conversation piece, but even renowned area chefs who love to experiment with unusual and funky greens and veggies shied away from it.

“I put it out on the same spot on my table with my other produce and hoped to sell it each weekend from August through October, but I packed it up at the end of each market day. In fact, I couldn’t give it away.”

Despite its lack of market appeal, acting on the advice of the UW-Extension horticultural agent, Marks said that three weeks ago, she harvested the seeds. She’s drying them now and will plant the seed this season when the soil warms up.

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