Situated beautifully at the intersection of Michael Pollan, Ruth Reichl, and Barbara Kingsolver, Heirloom is an inspiring, elegiac, and gorgeously written memoir about rediscovering an older and still vital way of life.
Fourteen years ago, Tim Stark was living in Brooklyn, working days as a management consultant, and writing unpublished short stories by night. One evening, chancing upon a Dumpster full of discarded lumber, he carried the lumber home and built a germination rack for thousands of heirloom tomato seedlings. His crop soon outgrew the brownstone in which it had sprouted, forcing him to cart the seedlings to his family’s farm in Pennsylvania, where they were transplanted into the ground by hand. When favorable weather brought in a bumper crop, Tim hauled his unusual tomatoes to New York City’s Union Square Greenmarket, at a time when the tomato was unanimously red. The rest is history. Today, Eckerton Hill Farm does a booming trade in heirloom tomatoes and obscure chile peppers. Tim’s tomatoes are featured on the menus of New York City’s most demanding chefs and have even made the cover of Gourmet magazine.
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|Title of History eBook: Heirloom|
|Release Date: 07-15-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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A Farm Grows in Brooklyn
An unsustainable writer’s life–hunkered down at a desk on the top floor of a Brooklyn brownstone–proved to be the soil in which the farmer within me took root. Out in the street one wintry March evening, pacing and frothing over poverty, injustice, and those politely worded impersonal rejection letters quarterlies dispense the way banks hand out toasters, I came upon a trash bin loaded with basement scraps: water pipes, furring strips, two- by- fours studded with nails that could be straightened out and reused. From these scraps, I saw in a flash of insight, I could construct a seed germination rack. In the gardening catalogs, a deluxe seed starting kit, complete with full- spectrum light and soil heating mats, cost about eight hundred dollars. Which I didn’t have.
What I did possess–or so I fancied–was a farmer’s resourcefulness. Four years earlier, I had started a vegetable garden on the land I had grown up on in Pennsylvania. Road trips in a battered Toyota pickup kept me and my landlord seasonally flush in tomatoes and pesto. I had never given serious thought, until this moment, to expanding into a truck patch. It was an idea so impractical it bordered on fantasy. Most everything I planted–peas, lettuce, carrots, beans, sweet potatoes, beets–got chewed down to nubs by deer and groundhogs. Whether these fur- bearing gourmands were susceptible to primitive superstitions about nightshades, I don’t know, but come August, you’d look at my garden and think the only thing I’d planted was tomatoes. The vines strafed the basil and thyme, shaded the sun- loving peppers, and strangle