Garlic lovers now have oodles more alternatives to the heaping bin of single-selection generic white garlic bulbs at most grocery stores. Dick and Diana Dyer, owners of Dyer Family Organic Farm
(aka Dick's Pretty Good Garlic), grow 40 varieties on their Superior Township farm.
"A lot of people think garlic is garlic until they taste the differences between these varieties and then they think, well, there's kind of a range of flavors," Dick Dyer says.
"Actually that garlic in the big commodity grocery stores is typically up to 10 months old by the time it gets on the shelf and 80% of it comes from China...by the time it gets to the market it's lost a lot of the quality of fresher garlic," he adds.
Each year the Dyers, who are finishing their third season of commercial growing, plant garlic on a half-acre plot – enough for 20,000 plants. Dyer estimates they've sold 15,000 heads of garlic so far this year, with 2,000 remaining. "The other 3,000 will serve as seed stock for growing the 20,000 heads we have to plant in October."
The Dyers supply area restaurants, including The Grange, Ravens Club, Zingerman's Deli, and Zingerman's Roadhouse, among others. They also usually have about 10 varieties on hand at area farmers' markets -- the downtown Ypsilanti market on Tuesdays; the Kerrytown market on Wednesdays; Ann Arbor's Westside Farmer's Market on Thursdays; and the Dixboro market on Fridays. However, "this is the last week we'll be selling at all four farmers markets. We're just about sold out for this year," says Dick Dyer. They will continue sales at the Dixboro market until the rest of the crop is gone.
The couple are the sole employees of the farm, which also offers seasonal items: vinegar flavored with garlic scapes and chive blossoms, honey from their bee hives, and other vegetables including baby pumpkins and zucchini.
And they eat what they sow. Personally, the Dyers use garlic in just about every dish. They've even got a recipe for your snack shelf: garlic brittle.
Source: Dick Dyer, co-owner, Dyer Family Organic Farm
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar