Each year I grow out a couple varieties of heirloom tomato seeds for my friend Kelly who runs the Populuxe Seed Bank. She sends me the seeds, I grow the tomatoes, I enjoy the tomatoes, and in return I save seeds from each variety and send them back to her at the end of the year. She places them in cold storage at the seed bank. This helps keep these special heirloom varieties alive and well.
From the about section on the seed bank website:
In a time of rising monocultures, not only on industrial farms, but in home gardens as well, thanks to the increasing number of hybrids being produced by a handful of companies, open pollinated, and especially heirloom, varieties are becoming extinct. These varieties, once enormous in genetic diversity, are being driven out of existence in the interests of tomatoes that ship well from Mexico to Canada, and cauliflower that is all pristine and uniformly white.
Maybe one person can’t change how agriculture is done world-wide, but we can preserve the genetic diversity of our food crops by growing our own non-hybrid, heirloom and open pollinated varieties.
I grow these varieties away from my other tomatoes, and I put little tulle isolation bags over the blossoms to prevent pollen contamination from other varieties. This way the seeds don’t accidentally hybridized and will grow true to the variety when replanted.
Last year the biggest tomato I grew was one I was growing out for the seed bank, weighing in at over a pound ‘Rosado de Aracena’ was enormous and delicious.
This year I’m growing two new varieties, ‘Wonder Lights’ and ‘Goldman’s Italian American’. Kelly asked me if I wanted to pick the varieties or get a surprise, I went for the surprise! Glad I did, I love the varieties she picked for me. Both are new to me so I’m excited to see what they are like.
Here’s the description for ‘Wonder Lights’ – also called ‘Plum Lemon’.
Seed for this was collected in 1991 from an old seedsman in Moscow. Fruit is pointed on it’s ends just like a lemon with solid meat, almost like a paste tomato. 2 x 3-inch (6 oz.) fruit is a bright, clear-yellow tomato with mild sweet flavour.
And for ‘Goldman’s Italian American’
Heirloom tomato maven Amy Goldman discovered this variety at a roadside stand in Italy, and named it after her grandfather’s Brooklyn grocery store. A glamorous, large red tomato, Goldman’s offers classic rich flavor. Makes a sumptuous sauce, and is great for both canning and fresh eating. The pear-shaped fruits are ribbed and pleated, intensely red at full ripeness.
If you are interested in growing and saving seeds for the Populuxe Seed Bank please contact Kelly directly.
If you want to support the project you can also purchase fresh, organically-grown rare varieties of seeds from the Populuxe Seed Shop – they make great gifts!