A simple salad, bursting with summer flavor, reveals a deep story of farming, family, and heritage. In this new video, fourth-generation farmer Amber Balakian takes us behind the scenes and into the fields to meet the people behind Balakian Farms. She then meets with Kate Leahy, coauthor of the cookbook Lavash, who shares how to make a traditional Armenian salad, using a rainbow of the Balakians’ vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes.
Amber’s great-grandparents were immigrants who fled the Armenian Genocide a century ago and settled in Reedley, California, where they planted vineyards. Her grandfather, John Balakian, was born and raised on the farm and continued the legacy, adding tree fruit and other crops. In the 1990s, Amber’s mother, Ginger, transitioned the farm to organic practices, and began growing heirloom tomatoes to expand their offerings at farmers markets. The farm now grows up to 80 tomato varieties, with their season peaking in July and August.