Charlie, as I did, grew up in a brownstone in New York City. We are both first generation Italian and were brought up in families that embraced tradition. Much of this was evident in family foods and meals. Fresh was best, so the desire to hone out a little space to have a few pots to grow herbs, like basil and parsley and in good weather maybe a tomato plant or two was evident. Charlie’s Mother used her fire-escape (those are the metal structures that you see still attached to older brownstones in the City). My City Grandmother, Little Nonna as I always called her, raised her pots on windowsills. My New Jersey Grandmother had a farm so her plantings were many and varied and were used in her cooking in the Pensione/Restaurant. Although, there was always enough to share with her families, especially those nice red juicy ripe tomatoes in August that made for great sandwiches on white bread slathered with mayonnaise and a pinch of salt.
Which brings my story to Charlie’s Father or Grandpa as he was known to be called. He loved to garden, it was in his blood. So when Charlie’s older Sister May and her Husband Tony bought their first house on Long Island back in the 50’s, Grandpa seized his opportunity and quickly transformed their back yard (originally intended for their young boys) into a vegetable garden. And there you would find him every weekend from April through September. Neighbors always marveled at how he would be out there in the wee hours tilling, planting and tending to each plant. Of course it was left to May and Tony to keep it watered and weeded during the week. However over the years we all enjoyed the fruits of his labor of love. It must also be in our blood because over the years we have had many gardens much as the one we have growing today. And later came the dreaded but, also, much loved fig tree but that’s for another story.
Here at the Market we can help you develop your own little “Orto” herb and vegetable garden. We carry and now have in stock Franchi Sementi (Sementi is the Italian word for Seeds). These seeds cater to backyard gardeners and every batch of seeds is tested for germination quality.
70% of Franchi Seeds are purchased from Italian farmers. These seeds, with proper care, will grow into strong and healthy plants. Our selection includes, among others, Basil, Parsley, Heirloom Tomatoes, San Marzano Tomatoes, Arugula with Olive Leaf, Wild Arugula, Black Zucchini, Mini Onions and Violet String Beans.
As the Franchi founders say, “Grow Italian and taste the difference!” We’d be thrilled if you shared your pictures and stories about your gardens with us.