For April, I read Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer. I felt like the book was a bit disjointed, but then I realized that each chapter was intended to be a self-contained story (or “note”).
The author’s story is initially very inspiring. He wasn’t entirely satisfied with his career, so one day he decided to start growing heirloom tomatoes of all kinds and sell them to chefs in New York. (He inspired me to sow more of my Brandywine seeds!) He planted thousands and then discovered how much work it is to take care of those plants as well as pick all the tomatoes! He had to find “tomato people” – people who don’t mind the green stains on their hands and the long, hot hours required.
He talked about the peas, peppers and other plants he grew and how much those chefs loved his produce! Yet, he never made enough money to live comfortably, and it highlights how unfair it is that just about no one growing organic, varied produce can be just a farmer. He mentioned other farmers he knew who had second jobs to make ends meet. Society should value this kind of food more, and I think we’re moving in that direction with the local food movement and consumer awareness.
He also mentioned the issue of being “certified organic,” and how a lot of small farms are technically organic but can’t afford to be certified. Ask the growers at the Farmer’s Market and see how they grow their food!
For May’s book club, I’m considering a biography of an influential person in the local food movement. It’s not technically a garden book, but I think it’s close enough. Join me next month!