Dagele Bros. Produce, operated by Frank, Robert and Randal Dagele was started in 1919, when the brothers’ grandparent’s, John and Josephine, emigrated from Poland and settled in the 22 square miles of Orange County known as the “Black Dirt” region. A bit of geological happenstance has made the area home to some of this country’s most fertile soil. “It used to be the bottom of a lake,” explains Doreen Faliski, the Dagele brother’s sister who runs the farm’s stand at the New Rochelle Farmers Market.
Indeed, about 12,000 years ago, melting glaciers left behind low-lying bogland that built up deep layers of decayed plant matter. In the early 20th century German, Polish and Dutch immigrants to Orange County uncovered the sulfur and nitrogen rich black soil by draining the bogs with a network of ditches. It was soon discovered that the high sulfur content in the soil produced some of the spiciest onions available and for the past 100 years the region has been known for its flavorful alliums.
Lucky for us, the Dagele Bros. devote about 180 acres of their 400 acre farm to growing cooking onions. “We sell our onions with the tops still on them, they’re extremely fresh and have a better taste,” Doreen says. The other crops grown on the Dagele brothers’ farm are 125 acres of salad greens, 40 acres of pumpkins and winter squash, and 20 acres of different vegetables that range from artichokes to zucchini.