Tim Stark Shares Heirloom Tomato Tips

Posted on August 30, 2008

HeirloomTim Stark is a tomato farmer, blogger for Gourmet and the author of a book named Heirloom. NPR has an article where Tim Stark talks about how an an atmosphere of stress and chaos was good for his tomatoes.
What I brought to this market was a ragtag lot: Black Krim, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Zapotec Pleated, Extra Eros Zlatolaska. They were zippered, cracked and hopelessly mottled.

But those tomatoes developed a following. Customers had grown suspicious of the fire-engine red variety: over-irrigated, sprayed at the first sign of disease, pumped up with fertilizer, pampered like a bottle-fed baby. My tomatoes had to compensate and persevere, dig for their minerals and water, find their own way. The patches of black, the concentric scars, the multiple signs of tomato suffering, showed strength and flavor. I couldn't help but notice how my tomatoes responded to me in ways that women and bosses never had. My tomatoes needed me, and I needed them.

For 10 years, I've made a living from tomatoes. It's not a bad life, even though I threaten to quit each year. But things have gotten better since I started out. These days, at the peak of summer, I get four hours of sleep where once I got two. I believe in managed stress. It sweetens the tomatoes. I like to think it sweetens me, too.
In the video below Tim Stark teaches Harry Smith how to find some of the season's best tomato picks.

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