I was surprised to find a beautiful heirloom Brandywine tomato for 75¢ at Bill’s Farm Market outside of Petoskey, Michigan. October 8th is usually too late for these gems, with only bushels of canning tomatoes still available to send us into winter. The top and far right tomatoes pictured above are Brandywines, grown in our garden two years ago.
I figured this late-season tomato must have good genes and saved the seeds, fermenting them to remove the gelatinous coating and then drying the seeds on a paper towel.
A week later I used tweezers to pick up each seed and wrap it in a small piece of newspaper, the perfect activity to get me through the first few evenings of my new, non-smoking lifestyle. I don’t know how many individual seeds my work resulted in, but it has
to be at least 100. What am I going to do with 100+ seeds when I plan to plant no more than 3 Brandywines next year?
Gradually the idea dawned on me: give the seeds away to see how far they spread and what stories are generated. I don’t expect dramatic stories, we’re not going to end world hunger with these seeds, but someone might grow closer to a grandchild or befriend a neighbor in the process of growing a tomato. Someone else may taste a true heirloom tomato for the first time and decide that he or she likes tomatoes after all.
So here’s the deal: send a SASE no. 10 (business size) or similar envelope to Joe Neely, 2942 Salem Drive, Ann Arbor, MI, 48103 and I’ll send you back 2 or 3 seeds with germinating suggestions. For those of you under a certain age, who may not be aware of the existence of the US Postal Service, SASE means ‘self-addressed, stamped envelope’. I’ll keep sending seeds until they’re gone.
I haven’t quite figured out how to keep everyone informed as to how far the seeds spread and the stories generated, so please provide your email address so I can keep you informed. Hell, I’ll probably start a Facebook page for the project; isn’t everything on Facebook these days?
Finally, please help spread the word and get your friends involved. If I have to rely on
readers of my blog to participate – both of them – this thing will never fly.