Column: What to do with a tomato surprise


This Ohio farm girl doesn’t get inspired all that much after the real growing season starts for a farmers’ market grower.

Yes, it’s great to start heirloom tomatoes from seed. And, for sure to see them mature. There is nothing like seeing — and tasting — the first bi-color Paul Robeson heirloom tomato.

I found out about this particular variety back in the days when I lived in Washington, D.C.

I was an active participant in area farmers’ markets, because my business found out about the fulfilling — and lucrative — existence of markets that were “producer only.”

This description means that only people who grow their own vegetables, fruits, flowers; bake their own breads and pastries; and feed and nurture their own cattle, used for prime cuts of meats; can sell at the markets.

Husband John and I did this little feat for 30 years.

During the course of all this – running my business in addition – I learned again my fondness for growing real things.

At one point I traveled around Maryland, looking at what I thought would be good agricultural land for vegetables.

Slowly, way too slowly, I realized I had a farm in Ohio. So I decided to travel back and forth, while keeping my business running, and start growing in Ohio.

Oh, what an adventure.

Husband John could have gotten the award for the most patient man ever. He didn’t complain when I would venture back and forth.

I started at a small market in neighboring Wooster. Then I decided I was big enough to take my wares to markets in Cleveland.

Hello, North Union Farmers Market.

This market — much bigger than the local one — was in Shaker Heights.

Shaker Square, to be exact.

This area of Cleveland had the reputation of turning out well-heeled people. Many worked at the respected hospitals or museums in the area.

North Union Market was very good to me.

I grew, traveled, grew, traveled.

After a while, the reality of spending three hours in a truck every market day, just to arrive at destination, paled.

That dream ended.

But I still grow.

Last year I built two raised beds. They are more than enough for one grower.

I am pretty adept at canning and freezing, so nothing goes to waste.

Over the years I developed the skills of coming up with value-added products. You have too many Delicious yellow tomatoes, you make “Tomato Gold.”

The yellow color of this I discovered by accident, after turning excess Delicious tomatoes into a marmalade. It has the proper zing in it, because of candied ginger. Plus lots of citrus.

All those little efforts to make something better out of nothing worked well for me.

I have ventured numbers of times to other countries, using my self-taught skills, to train people in business building, broadening market products.

On one trip to Uganda, I showed my class how to take a weed that had blossomed and turn it into a bouquet. I paid nothing for it. I had found a discarded plastic bottle, put water in it, and put in the blossom.

I told my students that could go for $8, easy, in the United States.

One smart student came in the next day, carrying his own bouquet.

Before I veered off here, I was talking about not always being inspired these days.

However, once in a while, inspiration resurfaces.

Doing my picking yesterday, I discovered this charming little Sun Gold tomato.

This guy didn’t introduce himself, though it might have been proper.

He looked so individual.

I took his photo, and named him “nose.”

Now, what to do. Dare I eat him?

You decide.

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