About our Heirloom Tomatoes and Produce:
Welcome to our little farm... for the past 17 years, we have specialized in growing 75 varieties of beautiful heirloom tomatoes from all over the world... and counting.
The pictures of our heirloom tomatoes are taken at their prime ripeness, so that you may experience the beauty and proper color of each tomato. Often, sites show tomatoes at the color stage of the photographers liking, which doesn't represent the tomato's true coloring. Usually, this is for the purpose of a more appealing marketable picture for selling their product.... a pet peeve of mine. It is my belief, that when you buy a seed product, you should receive exactly what the picture shows, not a mis-represented photoshopped color or an early stage of color change.
At the stage of prime ripeness, is when you can truly taste the actual characteristics of any tomato. This ripeness, brings out the heirloom's wonderful uniqueness in flavor for which they are so prized. To further enhance the taste of an heirloom, add just a tad of sea salt for a better, more complex tomato flavor.
An "Heirloom" Is: a plant variety that has a history of being passed down by generations in a family or community and must be open-pollinated. There are four categories: family, created, commercial and mystery heirlooms.
To be classified as an "heirloom tomato", the tomato seed has to come from a seed lineage that is at least 50 years old with the cut off date around the mid-60's, that is non-Commercial Hybrid and non-GMO seeds.
Tomatoes in the late 1960's were starting to be engineered and corrupted by companies for desirable commercial characteristics. There are varying opinions about the cut off year of heirlooms... some make the end of WWII the cut off period, but because the seed corruption in commercial hybridization and GMO engineering started in the late 1960's, the consensus is that tomatoes up to then are accepted as heirlooms.
Tomatoes historically, are said to have originated in South America and from there for many hundreds of years, have been cultivated all over the world producing all the heirloom varieties we have today.
What most people don't realize about "Heirloom" tomatoes...
Heirloom tomatoes (especially indeterminates) are labor intensive (depending on amount of plants grown) and have a very long growing season. Daily observance is also required. Living here, in Canada's most southern tip (Shirley, BC, Canada), is where it is the most mildest part of the country averaging 5 months of drought. It takes these heirloom tomatoes 7 and a half months to mature from seed to table with a September harvest.
Garden Center "Commercial Hybrids and GMO" Tomatoes:
Tomato plants bought from "Garden Centers" are "hybrids" not bred from "heirloom" tomatoes, unless stated and are very rarely seen. They are grown in heated winter hot houses usually with commercial chemical fertilizers and pesticides, with at least a 3-4 month head start in growth. This early head start growth is in order to sell to the public in late spring for retail with expectation of a mid-summer harvest. Notice, some of the tomato plants you buy in spring already have tomatoes on them? It is not by chance, but for retail appeal. It is not normal unless you live in some parts of the US (California, Florida etc.) where you have mild temperatures and sunshine most year round.
"Garden Center" hybrid tomato plants or the hybrid tomato seed packages you buy, are sourced from companies that have cross bred 2 different established hybrid varieties of tomatoes for their particular characteristics... perhaps even being undisclosed GMO tomatoes as they will not indicate this. The result is a tomato that is uniform for appeal, disease resistant, an early harvest, longer shelf life but, thicker skinned and extremely compromised on taste.
The seed from these purchased " F1 hybrids" will not produce stable seeds you can save, meaning you will only get tomatoes that once from the plant you bought or from the plant of each seed in the package. Once you finish the seeds in the package, you have to buy another package or plant if you want this same tomato. This way, companies producing these hybrids keep the lineage to themselves for profit for you to keep purchasing from them year after year.
Hybrid tomato monopolies aren't the only crop monopoly. The grains we consume today which are 90% GMO's wheat, rice, soy etc) are from farmers forced to have to buy planting seed each year from these same companies, as the crops will not produce viable planting seed for the next season.
You can see how these commercial hybrid or GMO crops have great impact on the world and it's staple food supply and health of people today. It is so important to carry on planting heirlooms for our produce, not only for health, but for seed saving to sustain natural future crops. The (hybrid/GMO) crops depend highly on chemical fertilizers and pesticides because of their susceptability to newer diseases and pests caused by weakness in their breeding.
Note: GMO tomatoes in the year 2000 here in (BC) were supposedly taken off the shelves because they received a bad reception for their lack of flavor. There is no way to know for sure if grocery store hybrid tomatoes today (still lacking taste), are back to being GMO's. Tomatoes today are given a generic name like "field tomatoes" "hot house" or "roma" types. You only know what country they are from but not how they were produced. We can't even depend on their coding as that is also unreliable.
Why "Heirloom" tomatoes are not sold in stores...
These tomatoes can take years to establish in your soil, understandable as your seed may come from another country established in their soil. They are also very affected by weather, temperatures, watering routines and soil ammendments and your crop yields will vary year to year because of these affects.
Sometimes a plant will produce as little as only 2 tomatoes, but I have found that the longer you plant from the same saved seed lineage, the better the strength of the plant and your yields will become more over the years. You have to remember that tomatoes don't like extreme heat which can again affect crop yield.
Becoming a sort of a "scientist" in experimenting with your soil ammendments is key to greater success. Every season we experiment with ways on improving their growth and tomato flavor. We then compair year to year how it affected the tomatoes and what changes were good improvements.
In light of the challenges of labor, time commitment, effects of environment and unpredictable yields... they also need gentle handling at harvest and packaging as they tend to be thinner skinned (which is normal) are somewhat delicate. All these things are not characteristics desirable to "big farm". In addition, not being able to be harvested by machine and having a "normal" shelf life also makes them unwanted by commercial farming. For these reasons are why they are not readily available in grocery stores.
Bottom line, "Big farm" grows notably flavorless and thick skinned, hybrid slicing types or paste tomatoes for store markets. They are bred for attractive uniformity and sustaining a longer shelf life to keep produce rotation down and profits high.
Our hope is... that this information may help you to understand how tomatoes in the " big, commercial farming vs. small, organic heirloom farming", are so different. Hopefully, we may insight an appreciation in what is involved to produce these natural, flavorful, colorful, exotic, excellent quality and organically grown heirloom tomatoes and heirloom produce.
Our tomatoes are comparative in price per pound to "organic" tomatoes sold in stores. Cultivating them is truly our labor of love, a joy, and a delight in sharing them with you.
In addition to our "Heirloom Tomatoes", our farm also grows from seed to table various organic heirloom vegetables, 16 varieties of gourmet garlic, various herbs, mints and wild berries. Our produce is healthy, nutrient dense and deliciously flavorful.
* We supply the Victoria (Vancouver Island) area restaurants, bistros and cafes.
* We also sell to private clients on a minimum quota.
* If you have any questions, contact us using our contact button above...
Please note: Our site is constantly updating new pictures and information in the different albums. Come again as often as you like...