Our 2023 EFN seed catalogue is now online! 100+ new varieties. Over 40 different growers and foragers from across the country. A million thanks to all who make this possible, especially our amazing seed-house crew!
EFN INTRODUCTION. NEW. We actually have no idea if 'La Fontié' is actually the appropriate name for this believed-to-be Syrian cucumber, but it's all we have. That was the name on the envelope given to us filled with seeds. The internet has not been helpful in further shedding light on it (the same name was attached to a Syrian lettuce from the same source). This variety passed through many hands on its way to us, including those of Syrian refugees farming in a camp in Lebanon. It was said that this variety came to those refugees from a source in Europe, but that its origins are actually in Syria.
The first time we grew it, in sandy soil with no irrigation at the Alliance Community Reboot farm in South Jersey — a Jewish farming project we've been involved with since 2016 — we had critter problems and ended up with hardly any fruit. But we got enough seed to try again. The next year, in the same spot, they were left alone for two weeks and ended up swamped by weeds, resulting in a total crop failure.
Because we dry-farmed them the first time, each plant produced one unimpressive vine and a single fruit before drying up. I've known some desert-adapted crop plants to behave that way, so I figured that was normal. Finally, in 2020, Nate gave this variety the love it deserves: a prime spot at our flagship farm in Elmer, NJ, watering as needed (probably just two or three times as plants were being established), and even providing a little trellis, because the healthy young plants were producing conspicuous tendrils, but ultimately they stayed on the ground anyway. Given just enough attention, this was consistently been one of the best-looking crops in the field, even in a year with some very lovely crops.
These 'La Fontié' cucumbers demonstrated why this variety has been passed between so many people. It is vigorous and productive, with large leaves that showed no signs of mildew or any other diseases. Deer, rabbits, and groundhogs left them alone. Each plant produced at least 2 full-sized fruits, and some produced 5 or 6.
Here's what Nate says about them "I honestly don't really like cucumbers — at least not until they're well pickled — but I always eat at least one whenever I grow them. This one was juicy and crisp with a pleasing sweetness. I'm no expert, but it seemed like darn-near the perfect cucumber to me." Nate also found that they happen to make excellent pickles too, retaining that critical cucumber crunch.
Nate adds: "I've been watching these develop with the same joy-tinged-with-pain that I feel whenever I grow something from a war-torn place. I hope to one day be able to return these cucumbers to Syrian growers in a time of peace and freedom in their homeland."