Atop sunflower-covered tablecloths rest fresh cut herbs, eggs, and potted plants, from the familiar catnip and kale to the exotic epizote and sunchoke. If you frequent the market, you recognize the Otrembiak brothers behind this beautiful display, defined by the ever-present blue pick-up truck.
John and Steve Otrembiak have worked the family farm in Saratoga on and off since their father purchased the property in 1947, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the current farm came into being and became a presence at the Saratoga Market.
Though they are not certified organic, the Otrembiaks use almost exclusively organic farming practices. Their poultry and apiary also support the brothers’ holistic approach to farming.
John and Steve strongly encourage the creation of home gardens. They donate any excess seedlings, starters, and produce to the Saratoga soup kitchen’s community gardening programs. To Otrembiak Farm, the community’s food security and access to fresh, local produce are important priorities.
Though you can find many well-known vegetables and herbs at their stand, Otrembiak Farm is happy to also fill the Asian market niche, growing Asian greens, mustards, gow choy (garlic chives), and bitter gourds among many other Eastern plants. They also specialize in less common vegetables for the Northeast, such as tomatillos, okra, and various edible cultivars of common weeds.
Purslane: A Misunderstood “Weed”
As gardeners, we are apt to weed out wild plants that encroach on our deliberate plantings, overlooking the beneficial properties of so-called “weeds.” John Otrembiak is particularly taken by purslane plants. “Eat them!” he exclaims.
This ground-hugging jade plant lookalike could be taken for an invasive, sprawling weed. But purslane is, in fact, a succulent herb. High in omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamin C, it’s commonly eaten in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, Asia, and Mexico. In Greece, it is often stirred into yogurt or goat cheese. The entire plant is edible, from stem to seed.
Though the common purslane “weed” is quite small and delicate with reddish stems, Otrembiak Farm sells a cultivated variety which is more robust and light green in color.
Purslane Salad with Garlic-Yogurt Dressing
*Items available at Saratoga Farmers’ Market
Note: In many cultures, the yogurt is a main component of this dish, not just a dressing. Use less yogurt if you prefer to focus on the greens.
2 cups (or less) plain yogurt*
1 clove minced garlic (or more to taste)*
¼ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup (or more) chopped purslane*
2 cups (or more) torn leaf lettuce*
Mix all dressing ingredients, pour over greens and other additions, and chill (if time allows) for at least 30 minutes before serving.