Thursday, July 7, 2011

Preserving Our Heritage

If you have a garden (big or small) chances are you will grow some kind of tomato. More than likely you will grow cherry tomatoes. You know the kind that seem to produce forever. Sometimes continuing to fruit into the fall. Last year I had a cherry tomato that was approximately 10 feet tall. I let it sprawl on the ground after outgrowing the cage that surrounded it.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes of all shapes, colors and sizes
But I do not grow supermarket variety tomatoes. I prefer to grow the old timey kind. You know the ones our grandparents grew. The tomatoes with incredible flavor. (No cardboard taste here). With names like Aunt Ruby's German Cherry, Pike County Yellow, Mortgage Lifter and Violet Jasper. Violet Jasper being my favorite. A strikingly beautiful violet-purple fruit with iridescent green streaks!
Violet Jasper

I grow all my veggies from seed. Starting them indoors in the middle of winter. I do NOT use any synthetic and artificial fertilizers in my garden, relying instead on my composted heap of discarded hay and straw, goat berries, chicken poop and kitchen waste. I turn my compost pile with the help of worms (who in turn leave me with their castings). Mother Nature at her finest.

I love looking through seed catalogs when it is cold and dreary out. And I order my seeds through a wonderful company based in Missouri - Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Their catalog is amazing. It is expertly photographed and worthy of coffee table status. The company offers over 1,400 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs—the largest selection of heirloom varieties in the U.S.A. Baker Creek carries one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century, including many Asian and European varieties and has become a tool to promote and preserve agricultural and culinary heri­tage.

Excerpts from the Newsletter of 
Baker Creek Company Founder Jere Gettle
"Thanks to you, the local food and home gardening movements are starting to become a real food revolu­tion, and it is shaking the “dirt” from our food supply. In fact, Monsanto saw its stock plummet 40% as its profits fell steeply over the last year. Just as suddenly, Walmart has decided to go after the “green” and is jumping on the “local” produce bandwagon. Our company is dedicated to changing the way America looks at seeds, patents and life. We feel that food and life are rights that should not be controlled, manipulated and polluted by a few multi-national corporations. Genetic engineering is even start­ing to scare the farmers who grow it. Scientists are finding these manipulated genes showing up in ground animals and insects. Studies show that some strains have sickened mice and rats. Some types have gone “wild” and are now becoming almost uncontrollable weeds. Soy allergies in humans have doubled since the introduction of GE Soy. Scientists are now questioning how this might affect fish after finding living, genetically-modified genes in streams for many months after the crops’ harvest season. Sadly, we humans are the ultimate “guinea pigs” of the chemical cor­porations, who engineer many crops so farmers can spray nearly unlimited amounts of the same corporations’ own herbicides. This chemical spray kills almost everything... except the engineered crop! Remember the same compa­ny that brought us DDT and Agent Orange is now bringing us this new technology."

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