About our Heirloom Tomatoes and Produce:
Welcome to our little farm... We are a "Not for Profit" micro farm that for over 20 years, have enjoyed specializing in growing over 300 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 and interesting color stage but often doesn't represent the tomato's true coloring of that particular variety. 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 of any tomato.
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 that isn't as good as some, just add a tad of sea salt on a slice to see a difference for a better and 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 of a non-Commercial Hybrid or of a non-GMO seed.
Tomatoes in the late 1960's were starting to be 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 commercial hybridization 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, is where it is the most mildest part of the country averaging 5 months of drought. It takes these heirloom tomatoes 6 and a half months to 7 months or even more with "long winter" varieties to mature from seed to table with a September harvest here in t he Pacific North West.
Hybrid Commercial Varieties: 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.
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 which was established in their soil. They are also very affected by your daily care, pollination, pruning, 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 1 tomato on a first planting in your soil from the original source you bought it from, but I have found that the longer you plant from the same saved seed lineage year after year, 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. They like a balmy 26-27 degrees Celcius is the optimum in temperature for them.
Experimenting with your soil to balance ammendments is key to greater success. Every season we experiment with ways on improving their growth and tomato flavor. We then compare 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 for a heirloom tomato. All these things are not characteristics desirable to "big farm". In addition, not being able to be harvested by machine and having a somewhat limited shelf life also makes them unwanted by commercial farming. For these reasons are why they are not readily available in grocery stores which make them unprofitable. Unfortunately, many would not pay considerably higher prices for them which would need to be 2-3 times more, than their highest selling prices of the year.
Bottom line, "Big farm" grows notably flavorless and thick skinned, of commerical hybrid water bomb tomatoes for store markets. They are bred for attractive uniformity and sustain a longer shelf life to keep produce rotation down and profits high. But, who wants a flavorless tomato?
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.
* 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...