The King of Chinese Eggplants

Head to Westover farm for a fresh crop of this hard-to-find vegetable.
Darrell Westover

Although he grows a mean Chinese eggplant—a rare variety not found elsewhere in the Seattle area—Westover Farm’s Darrell Westover admits he’s not the biggest eggplant fan. “I learned that it’s not what you like, but what the customer wants,” Westover says. “I’ve had enough customers tell me how good it is. I’m not bashful about selling it.”

The Chinese eggplant is just one of the exotic items you can find at Westover Farm in Maple Valley, which began selling directly this spring. Westover, who has been operating the farm with his wife, Adele, since 1974, also grows Japanese cucumbers, Corno di Toro Italian sweet peppers, and Japanese shishito and Padrón peppers. All are hydroponically grown, without dirt, using an irrigation system in one of the farm’s three greenhouses.

Westover began growing Chinese eggplants five years ago after discovering them at a Portland greenhouse conference. According to Westover, it’s the only eggplant that’s round like a ball, ranging from baseball to softball size. They’re virtually seedless, mild tasting and very thin-skinned, which means buyers can take them home and immediately slice and cook them—but that also means they have a short shelf life.

Buying from the farm offers a different experience than buying from the Issaquah Farmers Market, Westover says, so consider making the drive to the farm to see his turkeys and chickens, as well as the greenhouses. “And [the vegetables] might be a little fresher,” says Westover with a chuckle. “Maybe by an hour or two.”

Westover Farm, 24030 SE 192nd St., Maple Valley; 425.432.1597; facebook.com/WestoverFarm

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