Ransom Hill Garlic is a small farm committed to growing our family heirloom garlic. We are located in Pompey New York, in the scenic hills south of Syracuse. Weather, soil and genetics make growing garlic in Pompey ideal. Our climate here, in Central New York, replicates the climate of central Asia, where garlic originated over 5000 years ago. With long cold winters, wet cool springs, and warm dry summers conditions are most excellent for growing Allium Sativum, hard neck garlic on Ransom Hill. Winter brings a heavy snow fall. The snow and organic straw mulch on the garlic beds give our garlic’s root system time to develop and absorb nutrients, important for development of a healthy plant. Our sustained cold temperatures then put the developing cloves into a dormant state. It’s the cold that gives the garlic its distinct flavor. Cool wet spring promotes green growth of the plant. Hot dry summers promote bulb size and signal the right time to harvest.
Garlic is hardy and can grow in just about any type of soil. But the right soil makes the difference if you’re looking for the real taste of Italian garlic. Ransom Hill’s soil is nearly perfect for growing garlic with nothing more than turning the soil and a labor we have our garlic All natural.
Hardneck gourmet garlic thrives in acid neutral soil with a PH of 7. Soil that lacks PH 7 needs limestone added to neutralize soil acidity. The hills of Pompey are organic dolomite limestone sedimentary rock. The limestone in our soil naturally achieves the PH 7. The dolomite provides the soil with rich magnesium and calcium, creating a natural fertilizer and affecting the balance of nutrients the garlic root absorbs. With these ideal weather and soil conditions, it is easy to follow organic principles of growing healthy, flavorful garlic.
Garlic is our expertise and doing it right is a family tradition. My grandmother, Rose Bonanni, immigrated to the United States in 1934 from Supino, Italy - a small farming community where most people were “contadinos”, Italian farmers. My Nonna Rose ( "grandmother" in Italian) left the family farm and traveled to the United States aboard a ship. Conditions on ships were less than ideal, so in order to stay healthy during her journey, she ate garlic that she carried with her. Once she settled in Little Falls, New York, like most immigrants, she planted a small backyard garden plot to supplement the table, and continued to raise the garlic she brought with her from Italy.
The garlic my Nonna Rose grew and passed down to us today can be categorized as an Allium sativum var.ophioscorodon, a hardneck Italian Purple rocombloe. The rocombloe has a distinctive look in early June, sending up a scape (stalk) that forms a complete double loop. They're the only garlic that double loops their scape. Italian Purple is generally medium size, and due to our soil conditions they can at times be on the large size, producing a bulb with 8-12 cloves arranged in circular fashion around the scape.
The flavor must be experienced to fully describe its depth. The flavor is rich and strong when eaten raw, but not overly hot, and sticks around for a while. Cooking it enhances the flavor of your favorite dish by adding a distinctive garlic taste. The aromatic experience of Nonna Rose’s garlic is an invitation to eat.
What makes our garlic an heirloom is that it has been propagated by the Bonannis for close to 80 years. From those first cloves carried to the United States by my Nonna Rose, our garlic has kept the same genetic traits through cloning. To grow a garlic bulb, you plant one of its cloves. That clove needs no sexual reproduction to make a bulb of garlic. No pollination needed. The genetic make up of the garlic is within the cells of the clove and it then reproduces asexually. It clones itself through this process, and makes genetically identical garlic.
The Italian Purple garlic was passed on from Nonna Rose in the early 70’s to my sister Pamela. She and her husband Edwin have been living organically for 35 years. Their accomplishments are many, but my favorite is their commitment to cloning Nonna Rose’s garlic in the same organic way Nonna did.
In 2006, my sister passed on some of Nonna Rose’s garlic to me, and for the next four years I acclimated the garlic to Ransom Hill soil - and boy, did it do well! Since then, we have shared the garlic with family & friends and attended garlic festivals. The feedback has been great, and we are encouraged by your response. Ransom Hill is now ready to share our garlic’s gourmet qualities with others.
Our heirloom garlic is *not* your average grocery store garlic.