12.08.2013

Heirloom Tomatoes Take Priority Again

It's December and its time to order tomato seeds!  We generally like to get ours started the last week of the year.  Originally, we would grow 35+ varieties each season, the possibilities are endless and one can easily get carried away when browsing through the Tomato Growers catalog.  As the years went by and our farm needed to focus on supplying our CSA Members, the selections we grew eventually moved towards better productivity and shipping.  Although these tomatoes are still great compared to grocery store brands, the flavor still cannot hold up to some of the old heirloom varieties.

The changes we made in tomato selections for the CSA was partly due to listening to our customers.  When we got feed back that tomatoes were cracked or didn't seem to hold up to shipping 50 miles to our drop sites, we slowly began to eliminate the more tender varieties, like Brandywine, Carbon and Cherokee Purple.  Its not that we didn't like growing these old fashion favorites... we just didn't enjoy negative complaints and considering that these heirlooms were 50% the productivity and twice the work, it just wasn't worth it as a commercial crop if our customers are not happy.

A few years later, we got bored and decided as a family farm, it was time to get back to our basics.  Its time to get back to growing tomatoes because they are the best tasting.  It may take more labor and effort on our end educating members why our heirloom tomatoes are so special.  Why they are colorfully ripe and something that they may not be used to experiencing.  We want to hear the expression, "these taste like my grandmother's tomatoes!" we want to hear people say, "my kids love your tomatoes and I can't get them to eat anything!"  It would be even more rewarding to hear our customers say, "these tomatoes are expensive, but worth every penny!"

This is the year that we get back into heirloom tomatoes for our Houston CSA and Brenham Market... the unique and better tasting heirlooms are worth it.  No more compromising tomatoes for shipping.  Big ones, pink ones, blackish purple rich ones that you will never see in a grocery store.  The not so perfect weird ones that you can make a meal out of.  Its time to get creative and to stop playing it so safe all of the time.

Get ready for some great tomatoes next spring (and pray for good weather)!