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Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato…
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Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer

by Tim Stark

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
After reading a review of this in "Edible Finger Lakes" I put this on my "to read" list. I finally got it from Paperback Swap a couple of months ago and it was worth the wait. Although the story was interesting a big part of the reason I kept reading the book was the story behind the story. This is a book about following your dreams but it doesn't gloss over the bumps in the road. ( )
  cygnet81 | Jan 17, 2016 |
Tim Stark is living my dream. For the last year, my husband and I have been throwing around the idea of getting a little farm- blueberries though because as much as I love, love, love tomatoes, my last few years of attempts have resulted in either A. Lots of green unripe tomatoes on frostbitten vines, or B. One nice tomato per vine that my baby picks and eats. Tim's success with tomatoes had me wishing I could be"the neighbor" (the real one hates the tomatoes and their messy, disorganized fields.)

I loved reading about the restaurants he provides tomatoes for and the mouth watering creations they serve. He makes having a twenty hour work day worth while if it means feasting on delicious fresh and unique meals through out the delivery route.

I was in sympathy with his dilemma about the groundhog- I always was one to live with a little less production from my garden in exchange for wildlife in my yard. That is, until this spring when a bunch of squirrel hoodlum punks decided to eat the tips of every single bean, pea and sunflower seedling and then uproot the rest of my seedlings in search for seeds I might have hidden from them. And then chewed on every single piece of my brand new five piece wood patio set. I asked my husband to go buy a gun but then found out we actually have a squirrel hunting season where we live and it's not until the winter.

Again his comments about organic farming, the ups and downs, struck a chord. I want my yard to be pesticide free but what do I do about the fire ants that take over, driving out native species of ants and then bite my children when they go out to play.

Overall I actually learned a lot about growing tomatoes and small scale farming. Tim's story added a dose of reality to my dreams of owning a farm some day but didn't turn me off of the idea. In fact it makes me feel confident that I too could turn my dream into a reality. ( )
  mamalaoshi | Apr 13, 2013 |
Tim Stark is living my dream. For the last year, my husband and I have been throwing around the idea of getting a little farm- blueberries though because as much as I love, love, love tomatoes, my last few years of attempts have resulted in either A. Lots of green unripe tomatoes on frostbitten vines, or B. One nice tomato per vine that my baby picks and eats. Tim's success with tomatoes had me wishing I could be"the neighbor" (the real one hates the tomatoes and their messy, disorganized fields.)

I loved reading about the restaurants he provides tomatoes for and the mouth watering creations they serve. He makes having a twenty hour work day worth while if it means feasting on delicious fresh and unique meals through out the delivery route.

I was in sympathy with his dilemma about the groundhog- I always was one to live with a little less production from my garden in exchange for wildlife in my yard. That is, until this spring when a bunch of squirrel hoodlum punks decided to eat the tips of every single bean, pea and sunflower seedling and then uproot the rest of my seedlings in search for seeds I might have hidden from them. And then chewed on every single piece of my brand new five piece wood patio set. I asked my husband to go buy a gun but then found out we actually have a squirrel hunting season where we live and it's not until the winter.

Again his comments about organic farming, the ups and downs, struck a chord. I want my yard to be pesticide free but what do I do about the fire ants that take over, driving out native species of ants and then bite my children when they go out to play.

Overall I actually learned a lot about growing tomatoes and small scale farming. Tim's story added a dose of reality to my dreams of owning a farm some day but didn't turn me off of the idea. In fact it makes me feel confident that I too could turn my dream into a reality. ( )
  mamalaoshi | Apr 13, 2013 |
Heirloom is a series of recollections from tomato grower to the stars, Tim Stark. It moves back and forth between his struggling farm on the family homestead in rural Pennsylvania and the bustling Union Square green market in New York City. Along the way, we learn about the burgeoning local food movement, the rise of celebrity chefs, the ways Mennonites amuse themselves and the best methods for dealing with groundhogs.

Tim Stark has a distinctive voice, a deep interest in other cultures and a reverent appreciation of heirloom vegetables. This book will delight cooks, gardeners, and farmer's market aficionados. My only regret is the lack of details on the stories behind the tomatoes that made it all possible. ( )
  tracyfox | Mar 7, 2010 |
Every year since owning my own home I've grown vegetables in the backyard. My garden is not for the faint of heart. The plants start from seeds in the sun room and by mid-July I have a small ecosystem to rival a Brazilian rainforest in the yard. Carrots, bush beans, thyme, mint, rosemary, peppers, lavender, broccoli, eggplant... all manage to cohabit amiably until the tomatoes take over. Once those bad boys start sprouting all bets are off. We refer to my 6 x 9 foot patch of produce as "the heart of darkness" and a chicken wire fence is all that stands between us and it. Take my word for it, Pennsylvania is a primo spot for tomato growing.

Tim Stark figured this out back in 1994. He started growing his tomato seedlings under florescent lights in a Brooklyn apartment and after getting booted by his landlord took them home to the family farm in Pennsylvania. "Farm" is putting it generously - he has 2 acres dedicated to growing which, by his own account, he does not own. But what he grows on those 2 acres get shipped every week to the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC. His tomatoes have made him a favorite of chefs throughout the city.

Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer is not an account of his journey from PA to Brooklyn and back again. It's no more or less than what the title claims - a mishmash of anecdotes put together from 14+ years of farming without chemicals in Pennsylvania and selling the produce in Manhattan. (There's a whole archive of articles that didn't make the cut over at Gourmet.com). What makes these anecdotes matter is that, in addition to being a damn good writer, Stark sees himself as a farmer. And being a farmer isn't the easiest job out there these days. That edge creeps in. This isn't Garrison Keillor or some heartwarming pioneer family mini-series on the Hallmark Channel. Stark's stories are about farming in the 20th/21st century, with its ups and downs, gains and losses. He's also a bit of a crank. He complains his way through much of the book... About not being accepted by the other farmers in his area. About farmers competing with Real Estate developers for farmland. About what the government charges and the paperwork it requires before you can call your produce "organic". About readers of Gourmet sending him hate mail after the magazine published his story about killing a groundhog as he deals with an un-diagnosed lyme disease (add hypochondriac to his possible sins). Stark's crankiness is a big part of what makes his storytelling so much fun.

Full review at:
http://booksexy.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/heirloom-notes-from-an-accidental-tomat... ( )
  tolmsted | Jan 4, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0767927060, Hardcover)

Situated beautifully at the intersection of Michael Pollan, Ruth Reichl, and Barbara Kingsolver, Heirloom is an inspiring, elegiac, and gorgeously written memoir about rediscovering an older and still vital way of life.

Fourteen years ago, Tim Stark was living in Brooklyn, working days as a management consultant, and writing unpublished short stories by night. One evening, chancing upon a Dumpster full of discarded lumber, he carried the lumber home and built a germination rack for thousands of heirloom tomato seedlings. His crop soon outgrew the brownstone in which it had sprouted, forcing him to cart the seedlings to his family’s farm in Pennsylvania, where they were transplanted into the ground by hand. When favorable weather brought in a bumper crop, Tim hauled his unusual tomatoes to New York City’s Union Square Greenmarket, at a time when the tomato was unanimously red. The rest is history. Today, Eckerton Hill Farm does a booming trade in heirloom tomatoes and obscure chile peppers. Tim’s tomatoes are featured on the menus of New York City’s most demanding chefs and have even made the cover of Gourmet magazine.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:02 -0400)

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