Harbor Gardens


As published in The North Coast Voice:  September 2022

Homegrown: Spotlight on Local Food 

By T Gallo – nurse practitioner and owner of Harbor Gardens in Ashtabula 

Pan con tomate

Celebrating the tomato; Ohio’s state fruit AND beverage is In season now!

Having grown up in NorthEast Ohio (NEO) and born of a woman who grows her own tomatoes, it was imperative to give up tomatoes all together when moving to the west coast. The tomatoes there just did not taste as good as an Ohio-grown. Those were pre Alice Waters, and the local food movement, days in San Francisco and most of the tomatoes encountered at that time were pasty, pink and dry. Having remembered the warm-from-the-vine, sweet tang, the thick-cut, the bite of salt and pepper, the deep color of red and the burst of tomato juices running down the chin, there simply was no comparison. Holding out for an Ohio-grown tomato was worth the wait. So why were the Ohio-grown better and how might one hold on to that flavor?

What goes into the making of a tomato matters. There is a reason why many Ohio tomatoes taste better and it starts with the soil. Alfisol soils have a relatively rich native fertility. Starting with a rich soil helps, and, according to farmer and collaborator on the Bionutrient Food Association, Dan Kittredge, regenerative soil (the practice of putting back into the soil, more) will result in increased nutrient density and therefore, likely more flavor. The same is true for the seeds – from where, and what soil, did they come. For example, heirloom tomatoes that are grown for taste are likely to be more nutrient dense (hence tastier) than a tomato grown for transport.  Hydroponically growing a tomato has been shown to be rather underwhelming in nutrient density and therefore one could deduce not as flavorful. 

Nutrient density is an emerging science and the Bionutrient Food Association* is working on a hand-held spectrometer that consumers will be able to use to test their food before purchasing. At some time in the near future, one will know the nutrient density of one tomato vs another. However, Dan Kittredge does say that taste is a great place to start in absence of a spectrometer.

Nutrient density correlates with taste, as well as nutritional value. Occasionally folks ask me at our shop, Harbor Gardens in Ashtabula, why are local tomatoes so expensive?  More nutrition does equate to more value. Tomatoes are lauded for their carotenoid lycopene which gives added red color and anti-cancer and pro-heart properties. They are packed with Vitamins A, C, folate, chromium, potassium and antioxidants. More nutrition does equate to better value overall.

An idea to keep savoring the flavor of an Ohio-grown tomato: learn the art of canning. Because of the acid level of most tomatoes, water-bath canning is an appropriate way to ensure that flavor for the whole winter. There is not much better than popping open a jar of locally-grown tomato sauce on a chilly February day. You can taste summer in the jar. Check the OSU canning guidelines or find a local class near you (see below). 

Taste a locally grown, heirloom, thoughtfully produced tomato and you will understand why, 

as we are currently in tomato season, and that makes it the best time to be in Ohio! 

* The goal of the Bionutrient Food Association is to define nutrient density and  what causes it.They believe it makes a difference to people, health and to the planet.  They intend to make the availability of this hand-hold spectrometer within the next few years accessible to all who want to learn more. Currently, this group is open transparency and open-source so their classes and information are free. They collect data world-wide and share their knowledge. Find more info at www.bionutrientinstitute.org

Classic fixings for canning tomato sauce: fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and cayenne pepper 

Pan con tomate (favorite recipe learned from a friend’s mom after dancing all night in Barcelona.  The recipe is called Pa amb tomàquet in Catalan) 

There could not be a more delicious, yet simple, recipe out there. The star ingredient, the tomato, must be fresh and preferably heirloom, big, juicy, ripe! Your choice of color –  red, orange or yellow! 

Ingredients: 

Thick slice of bread 

Tomato (as described above) 

Olive oil 

Salt 

Pepper 

Grill or toast bread. Cut the tomato in half (or a quarter if it is as large as this photo) and rub it into the toasted bread using as much of the juice and pulp as possible. Save the tomato skin for later. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Enjoy! 

The heirloom tomato, Heart of the Bull, grown at an urban food forest in Ashtabula, Ohio

Local farmers’ markets near you – how many have you visited? Ask your local farmer about their tomatoes, what varieties they like to grow, what part of regenerative farming are they engaged and how to purchase a whole bushel for canning: 

Tuesdays: 

My Neighborhood Project 

At ACMC Health Plaza 

11-2pm 

Thursdays: 

Painesville Farmers’ Market 

12-4pm 

Painesville Square, Painesville, OH 

Fridays: 

Mentor 

2-6pm through Sept 23 

Eleanor Garfield Park 7967 Mentor Ave, Mentor, Oh 

North Kingsville Community Farmers’ Market 

9-1pm

6546 Church St (at N Kingsville Presbyterian Church) 

Saturdays: 

Conneaut Farmers’ Market 

9am – 1pm 

Located in the Moose Lodge parking lot at 

280 Park Ave, Conneaut, Oh 

Geauga Fresh Farmers Market 

9am – noon 

5205 Chillicothe Road, South Russell, Oh 44022 

Geneva Farmers’ Market 

9am – 1pm 

Hosted by Geneva United Methodist Church (GUMC) 

89 S. Broadway, Geneva, Oh 

Jefferson Farmers’ Market 

9am – 1pm 

Located behind the Historical Society, 

42 E Jefferson Road, Jefferson, OH 

Shaker Square Farmers’ Market 

Year – round from 8am – noon 

13209 Shaker Square, Cleveland, OH 

Willoughby 

8am – noon 

City Hall Parking Lot; 1 Public Square 

Sundays: 

Ashtabula Farmers’ Market in Historic District 

10am – 2pm

No markets during festival weekends 

1105 Bridge Street, Ashtabula Harbor, OH 

Photos by T Gallo 


As seen in the North Coast Voice, August 2022!

Homegrown: Spotlight on Local Food 

By T Gallo – nurse practitioner and owner of Harbor Gardens in Ashtabula 

Scorpacciata! 

Fairly recently, while sitting down to the dinner table with a local chef friend, Julie, the introduction to this term and the feast of scorpacciata began. Julie spent most of her cooking career in San Diego and grew up in Ashtabula, Oh. Having moved back to NE Ohio, she now shares her talents and taste with the locals. The essence of the word – to eat locally, abundantly and in season resonates with the soul and taste buds. In fact, many would argue that nothing tastes better than an Ohio tomato fresh off the vine! 

What is good now? Local food is happening all around you! It is a great time to enjoy your local food grocery, market, or neighborhood veggie stand that sits on a road near your house or destination. Ask around to find the best you-pick farms for fresh blueberries right now. Eat some now and throw some in the freezer for later. Garlic was recently harvested and now ready after curing for a few weeks. Tomatoes are coming on strong with basil, eggplants, onions, peppers, squash coming in right next to them…everything you will need for the recipe of the month. And, like scorpacciata…eat it in abundance! Pairs great with some Ohio-grown corn polenta. For dessert, fresh, sweet corn on the cob or a peach cobbler. We all know Ohio sweet corn is fabulous but did you know Ohio-grown peaches are delicious, too? Local wine, beer and spirits – found in and about the local food scene, make for a fabulous and festive feast. 

Watch out – eating so many fresh foods, that are in season, and so tasty, may make you a bit of a food snob. Your taste buds may become accustomed to the bright tones, rich flavor and sweet crunch of local food. You may have to ask, at the next meal you attend, from where are they getting their tomatoes? Or, gasp, you may find yourself growing your own. Then, you can invite your friends to your own scorpacciata…and indulge in the sweet abundance of local and seasonal food!

Makings of ratatouille – local foods in abundance – eaten in season – garden scape 2022 

Ratatouille – the recipe of Mediterranean Vegetable Stew with NE Ohio local veggies and herbs

For scorpacciata fun – go to the farmers’ market nearest you and procure the veggies for this dish there. Get to know your local farmers and/or try growing some herbs for yourself! 

Olive Oil 

1 head fresh garlic 

2 c. onion – diced

1 medium eggplant  or 2 small, long eggplants 

1 ½ t. Salt 

Handful  to a bunch of fresh basil (or, 1 ½ t. dry) 

3 Tablespoons of fresh oregano or 1 t. Dry

½ teaspoon of Rosemary

½ teaspoon of Thyme or 1 Tablespoon of fresh Savory 

1 medium zucchini 

2 medium bell peppers cut – diced 

Fresh ground black pepper 

4-5 fresh and local  tomatoes

1 fresh chili pepper – minced, or, 

Optional – freshly minced parsley 

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot with a lid or Dutch oven/deep skillet. Add onion and saute over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne and give it a good stir. 
  2. Add eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, salt and herbs and stir. Continue to cook over medium heat for 5-15 minutes depending on how long it takes to get eggplant soft. Add the rest of the ingredients. 
  3. Cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender. 
  4. Serve hot over a bed of polenta, salad greens or basmati rice. 
  5. Enjoy the fruits of Ohio summer! 

Salad of local and seasonal greens with edible flowers – nastrutium, Shasta daisy and bachelor’s buttons made, and grown by, Sarah Brower 

Local farmers’ markets in NE Ohio (Ashtabula, Geauga and Lake Counties – partial list): 

Thursdays: 

Painesville Farmers’ Market 

12-4pm 

Painesville Square, Painesville, OH 

Fridays: 

Mentor 

2-6pm through Sept 23 

Eleanor Garfield Park 7967 Mentor Ave, Mentor, Oh 

North Kingsville Community Farmers’ Market 

9-1pm

6546 Church St (at N Kingsville Presbyterian Church) 

Saturdays: 

Conneaut Farmers’ Market 

9am – 1pm 

Located in the Moose Lodge parking lot at 

280 Park Ave, Conneaut, Oh 

Geauga Fresh Farmers Market 

9am – noon 

5205 Chillicothe Road, South Russell, Oh 44022 

Geneva Farmers’ Market 

9am – 1pm 

Hosted by Geneva United Methodist Church (GUMC) 

89 S. Broadway, Geneva, Oh 

Jefferson Farmers’ Market 

9am – 1pm 

Located behind the Historical Society, 

42 E Jefferson Road, Jefferson, OH 

Shaker Square Farmers’ Market 

Year – round from 8am – noon 

13209 Shaker Square, Cleveland, OH 

Willoughby 

8am – noon 

City Hall Parking Lot; 1 Public Square 

Sundays: 

Ashtabula Farmers’ Market in Historic District 

10am – 2pm

No markets during festival weekends 

1105 Bridge Street, Ashtabula Harbor, OH 

Tuesdays:

My Neighborhood, ACMC Health Plaza in Ashtabula

11-2pm or until sold out

Photos by T Gallo 


5.22.22

What a week! Last week we hosted, at the newly open, Harbor Gardens General Store, an introductory gardening class for youths taught by Meadow, a beans and greens cooking demonstration with local chef Julie Meola, a local author night with Dr. Nancy Rung and a spring edibles and plant walk through Ashtabula Harbor with John Wright of Red Beet Row. We have also had delicious food bites including sour dough bread by Flannel Dog Farm and saute bouquets – a bundle of ready-to-eat greens from our spring garden!

Take a look at our classes page for upcoming demonstrations/classes and events – we look forward to seeing you at the store!

Use what you have!

Dreaming of summer bounty!

March 2, 2022 General Store Grand Opening is scheduled for March 31st!

We’ve been working with some friends to get the store ready….we will be featuring local made products, food and goods including organic and Ohio-grown flours, Ohio-made kombucha, honey, maple syrup, seed starts and more! Keep an eye out here and fb for a list of upcoming events. We look forward to celebrating spring with you!

Latest from the Blog

Harbor Gardens – 1022 Bridge Street – Ashtabula – OH – 44004 Ashtabula, loosely translated, means “enough fish for all.” We believe Ashtabula County has it all. We have the capacity to be self-sufficient, self-reliant and spoiled on the joys of The Lake, 4 scenic and wild rivers, food grown locally, and a host of amazing and talented folks. We have more colors of green than almost anywhere in the world and we enjoy all seasons! At Harbor Gardens, be on the lookout for all-things (especially food) from Ashtabula County. We have opened up the demonstration kitchen for locally-grown vittles and classes on how you can prepare it, use, can, pickle, ferment, enjoy it! Take a trip to our classes page…

Seedlings Feb 2022
Harbor Gardens’ garden – Winter 2022
Previous classes
Featuring home-grown watermelon radish