By Karen Gaudette Brewer

It's May and that means winter greens are almost gone at farmers markets in the sunny southern states (don't fret: we're still growing plenty of kale and leeks here in the chilly Pacific Northwest). Just look at what's beginning to ripen at one of the top farmers markets in Texas!

Those voluptuous sweet peppers above? Farmer Brad Stufflebeam of Home Sweet Farm market and CSA in Brenham, Texas says his great-poppa brought them to this country from Italy and they're called Dafino's Sweets. They're dynamite eaten three different ways:

  • Sliced and eaten fresh
  • Served the traditional way. "The family would prepare it, fry it up with olive oil and garlic, put that on some hard bread with provolone. They call it a fried pepper sandwich."
  • As paprika. "I dehydrate 'em and I'll grind it up as a paprika pepper, one of the ways to preserve it at the end of the year."

Stufflebeam and his family farm 25 acres outside Houston and specialize in organic crops and heirloom produce, with another 40 acres for livestock (they offer beef and chicken shares along with egg shares). They operate one of the oldest and largest Community Supported Agriculture programs in Texas, with nearly 400 families. As April winds down, Farmer Brad is plenty excited to harvest the first of this year's yellow squash, zucchini and Eight Ball squash (a roly poly zucchini), with the first artichokes and green garlic hot on their heels. But he can't wait for June, when the first of his glorious heirloom peppers is ready to pick.

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The Stufflebeam Family at HOME Sweet FARM in Brenham, Texas.[/caption]

Five ways with summer (or in this case, late spring) squash

The Stufflebeams also operate this farm store and weekly farmers market in Brenham, complete with artisan cheese and a beer garden. Stop by the next time you're in town!