Allow me to brighten up this slightly schizophrenic Monday morning: I just discovered an initiative of ProSpecieRara called Tomates Urbaines (that’s “Urban Tomatoes”, for the truly franco-deficient) to encourage people to grow disappearing varieties of tomatoes.
The concept? Everyone has the right to have seeds. Now that’s food for thought. Seems obvious at first, but according to ProSpecieRara, access to seeds is becoming increasingly limited due to the creation of varieties that are more resistant to disease etc. So far so good, but apparently, when you replant the seeds that come from these hybrid varieties of tomatoes, you get diddly squat. Instead, you have to buy new seeds to get new tomatoes. The consequences? A significant reduction in the number of tomato varieties available. (This is clearly a blog-simplified version of the issue. The ProSpecieRara website of course explains their concerns in much greater, nuanced detail).
To many, this may not matter. Hopefully to these readers, it does: I mean anyone who has ever been to the market in the summer has seen how incredibly diverse and cool looking tomatoes can be, right?? Red, green, yellow, big, small, smooth, bumpy, they seriously come in all shapes and sizes and have the most incredible bursts of flavor! Growing organic varietals that are slowly disappearing will keep diversity alive, not to mention the amazing fresh and fruity tastes they will bring to your dishes. And if you have kids, wow. I can still remember the first time I saw my avocado seed crack open and generate a new plant.
So here’s how it works:
1. Go to Tomates Urbaines until 6 April and sign up to receive your tomato-growing starter kit. You can make your pick of a whole list of varietals. You can start with seeds, or, if like me you’re incapable of making things grow and stay alive, you can ask for a sprout instead. The kit comes with detailed instructions, so they’ll be holding your hand all the way through.
2. Take care of your tomato. The website says it needs you to speak to it lovingly! (And isn’t that the truth for us all?)
3. Come August-September, take the most beautiful photo ever of your hottest tomato and submit to Tomates-Urbaines to win a prize.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, it’s COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE.
I will certainly be signing up – this will be second time trying to grow edibles. Last time was a colossal failure, so stay tuned for possible ridiculousness in the coming months. Who’s with me?