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AUTHENTIC_SEEDThe Authentic Jersey Tomato Seed Collection is the first result of the Historic Seed Map (HSM) I'm working on for the Library Seed Bank (LSB). It was interesting to me that there were three major seed farms with 40 miles of the Seed Library at the McCowan Memorial Library. I didn't know about them, and from my conversations with others in the area, neither did they.

When I first had the idea of a seed map, I thought a reference source for what was historically grown locally would help people with their seed selection. In this case, not only were these tomato varieties grown locally, they were developed here also. Something else occurred to me talking to fellow gardeners, since they didn't know about the seed farms, they also didn't know about the varieties these developed locally. This collection will correct that disconnect.

People know the Rutgers tomato, and rightfully so. It's a wonderful tomato, disease resistant, prolific, tasty and plants that are easy to manage since they are more compact than some heirlooms.

I'm excited by this. It's an appropriate start to the process for the HSM. So much more to come. I just scratched the surface with this. In no particular order, here is the Authentic Jersey Tomato Seed Collection.

Jersey Giant
This tomato is very rare and under the threat of extinction according to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a leader in seed saving and advocacy. We here at the LSB being based in New Jersey will do what it takes, growing these every year to keep it going. I encourage you to do so also.
Seed source:
http://www.rareseeds.com/jersey-giant-tomato/?F_Keyword=Jersey%20Giant

Rutgers
Developed by the NJ Agricultural Experiment Station in 1928, rereleased in 1943, what exists today -- Is a cross between Mariglobe and J.T.D. named for John Thompson Dorrance who invented the condensed soup.
Wonderful tomato, very prolific, closer to a bush variety
Seed source;
J.T.D - http://www.victoryseeds.com/tomato_jtd.html
Rutgers - http://www.victoryseeds.com/tomato_rutgers.html
Rutgers seeds are available from many seed sources,

Campbells 146
I can’t find much about this tomato except for the following; -- mid, SD, 7 oz., semi-sweet, globe-shaped fruit, red, canning-type. That description is from the seed source at Sandhill Preservation Center.
Seed source;
Once you click on the link below, scroll down
http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/catalog/tomato.html

Maule’s Success
Released in 1900
Seed source;
http://www.victoryseeds.com/tomato_maules-success.html

Golden Jubilee Tomato
Introduced in 1947, a yellow-orange tomato introduced by the Maule Seed Company of Philadelphia. Maule's seed farm was in Newfield, New Jersey.
Seed source;
http://www.ufseeds.com/Golden-Jubilee-Tomatoes.item

Marglobe
Stokes's catalog from 1926 boasts:

Our firm had the great honor of Ieading the commercial development of MargIobe -- Our present acreage for seed, although unusually heavy, it will scarcely be equal to the demands that are being made upon it. Advance sales are unprecedented.

Developed in 1917 by the USDA, and released in 1925 and is a parent for a lot of other varieties. It has strong disease resistance. Stokes Seed Company at the time they developed the Marglobe was in Moorestown, New Jersey.
Seed source;
http://www.victoryseeds.com/tomato_marglobe.html

Earliana
A very early tomato, developed by George Sparks of Salem, NJ and introduced in 1900 by Johnson and Stokes
Seed source;
http://store.tomatofest.com/Earliana_Tomato_Seeds_p/tf- 0153f.htm

June Pink
A pink version of Earliana
Seed source;
http://store.tomatofest.com/June_Pink_Tomato_Seeds_p/ tf-0273k.htm 

Box Care Willie
Late season beefsteak, red/ orange color. Starts growing slow, 10 oz fruits. Very flavorful.
Seed source;
http://store.tomatofest.com/Boxcar_Willie_Tomato_ Seeds_p/tf-0075.htm

Red Barn
Large red, beefsteak, very rare
Seed source;
Once you click on the link below, scroll down http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/catalog/tomato.html

Mule Team
Prolific with a long season
Seed source;
http://www.southernexposure.com/mule-team-tomato-016- g-p-347.htm

Big Zac
A pink tomato bred for its size can grow 4 pounds to 6 pounds, and still taste very good bred by Minnie Zaccaria.
Seed source;
http://www.totallytomato.com/dp.asp?pID=00087&c=41

Valiant
A variety developed by Stokes Seed Company in the 1930s.
Seed source:
http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/catalog/tomato.html

Purple Brandywine
Introduced in 1995, it's a stable cross of Brandywine and Marizol Purple.
Seed source;
http://store.tomatofest.com/Brandywine_Purple_p/tf-0082.htm

Jersey Devil
Paste type that was one a mainstay of the tomato industry in New Jersey.
Seed source:
http://www.rareseeds.com/jersey-devil-tomato/?F_Keyword=Jersey%20Devil

Trucker's Favorite
Originated in Burlington County, New Jersey by Burpee.
From Burpee's 1899 catalog:

The best of all main-crop purple-colored tomatoes. It originated in Burlington County, N.J."It is one of the largest tomatoes grown, and is most regular in shape and size. Color purplish-red, very solid, firm flesh, a good keeper, and not subject to rot or crack on the vines. It is an excellent shipper, and sold in Philadelphia markets at better prices than any other variety offered at the same time. Ripens evenly to the stem, is a strong, healthy grower, not subject to rust or blight, is an enormous cropper, and produces until the vines are killed by frost, holding its size exceedingly well until the last picking. The quality is of the very best, and for cooking and slicing purpose it cannot be excelled. It is in every way a most desirable variety for market gardeners, and hence the name, 'Trucker's Favorite'. "

While not a tomato that was developed by a New Jersey based seed farm, it has historical significance.

Seed source;
http://www.totallytomato.com/dp.asp?pID=00782&c=39&p=Truckers+Favorite+Tomato

White Rabbit
A small, currant type white tomato.
Seed source;
http://www.amishlandseeds.com/tomatoes_colors.htm#white

Ramapo Tomato
A flavorful tomato introduced by Rutgers in 1968. Rutgers controls the distribution of the seeds.
Scroll down to order form.
http://njfarmfresh.rutgers.edu/RamapoTomato.htm

While not a variety developed locally, this tomato is a historic variety worth including on this list. Imagine if these plants were grown continually in New Jersey since 1870.

Paragon
Introduced in 1870 by the Livingston Seed Company of Ohio, Paragon was a mainstay of the NJ tomato industry.
Seed source;
http://store.tomatofest.com/Paragon_Livingston_Heirloom_ Tomato_Seeds_p/tf-0371.htm

 

Photo and graphic of plant seedsProfits, by their nature are positive. According to Merriam-Webster.com the first definition of profit is 1. :  a valuable return :  gain. In general, profits are associated with business, and for some, that has a negative connotation. In his book Creating a World Without Poverty,  Muhammand Yunnus presented the his case for social businesses. He lays out a foundation a business can have a social impact and it's a matter of the choices that people make when setting and running their business on how they generate profits, and what they do with those profits. This book, and this theory has had a tremendous impact in my life. It inspired me to look up the definition of profit where I found there was another meaning that didn't apply to money. That has stuck with me, and now I have the application for it with my work here at the Library Seed Bank (LSB).

I've spent decades working in communications, most of it implementing marketing plans that were for monetary profit. That's business, and the strategies that are used, when done right, are very effective. It didn't occur to me how the research I was doing for the Historic Seed Map (HSM), and these business-based strategies would merge into a divine application where biodiversity would be the profit.

Market Research
A lot of time and money is spent on market research. Collecting data about your audience is important. To be effective, you have to know what appeals to your audience so you can deliver to them your message using the proper words, tone, fonts and colors.

I've realized the research I'm doing for the HSM by using old seed catalog, provides a lot of data about biodiversity. Old seed catalogs are a wealth of information. According to the Agriculture Almanac for the Year 1945 from John Bae's Sons, Inc of Lancaster PA;

The seed catalog is therefore a current encyclopedia of gardening, revised, and brought up to date each year. Some are so complete as to be preferred reference books in agriculture schools.

The wide array of seeds the seed companies offered is biodiversity in black and white. Throw off all limitations and conventions and follow me here. Let's look at biodiversity as an audience and think how can the successful marketing communication strategies that businesses use to generate monetary profits be used to provide profits, such as a valuable return or gain, for biodiversity by saving seeds. By removing the conventional definition of profit relating only to money, this opens up a new playing field. It allows for a new way to position seed saving advocacy, and my part in it.

Applying the market research
From the research for New Jersey, the first state for the HSM, I discovered that there were three major seed farms within a 40 mile radius of the first seed library connected to the LSB. These seed farms were active in the early 1900s. While not a native Jersey boy, I've lived here 95% of my life. I grew up around farms, and gardens, and in the course of it all, I've learned a lot about the agriculture history here. I didn't know about the seed farms, and from conversations with some locals, neither did they. To me, these seed farms are a significant piece of history. History is information. Information drives marketing plans. So, put this information behind the wheel, and let it drive. And, I'm glad I did.

Here in New Jersey, we have the Sopranos. We have Bruce and Bon Jovi. We have exits off the New Jersey Turnpike, and the Garden State Parkway that a lot of natives use to identify where they live. We also have our beloved Jersey Tomato. Local pride is a wonderful thing, and even more so, when that pride is grown in the native soil. While tomatoes didn't originate here, we love them, and they love it here. You can tell they do by the way they grow here. It's a great symbiotic relationship. Tomatoes have also played a significant role in New Jersey's agricultural history.

Thanks to a chemist named Dr. John Dorance, who invented the condensed soup process, and who grew  tomatoes on his farm in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, we have Campbell's Tomato Soup. For those who aren't familiar, Campbell's is headquartered in Camden, New Jersey, and Cinnaminson is approximately ten miles away. Camden is 15 miles from the Pitman where the first seed library will be.Cinnaminson is also 5 miles from on where one of the seed farms were. Dorance also saved his tomato seeds, and gave them to farmers so there would be a consistent crop.

Campbell's Soup drove tomato production in southern New Jersey in the early 1900s. Without Jersey tomatoes, there wouldn't be Campbell's Tomato Soup, which is a iconic American food product. It's the soup most frequently associated with the condensed soup process. Also, paired with a grilled cheese, it's a top choice of comfort food. When Andy Wharhol immortalized this American icon with his Campbell's Soup Cans in 1962, in a way, he immortalized the Jersey tomato with them.

Product development
Enter the Authentic Jersey Tomato Seed Collection. A seed collection based on local history is by no means unique. What's unique about this collection is that tomatoes, or vegetables, are generally not categorized by where they originated, especially with varieties that were developed with 20 miles of where gardener are acquiring the seeds.

These seed farms developing varieties of a source of local pride (the Jersey tomato), is a bridge from the pre-industrial food complex past to the current focus of locally sourced food, is a product development dream come true.

I don't know how many other areas had a such concentration of seed farms in a local area, and as I mentioned above, it's not common knowledge in this area that these seeds farms existed. Looking at the research about the seed farms, with biodiversity as my audience, and with profits being the valuable return or gain, provided the base for product development, in this case the Authentic Jersey Tomato Seed Collection.

Consumer touch point – Point of purchase or POP
This is where the market research and product development come together. When someone checks out a package of seeds, they are the consumer, and the seed library is the point of purchase. Since we're using the Authentic Jersey Tomato Seed Collection as our model, let's take a look at how this information will be delivered to the consumers, with the greatest impact being a profit for biodiversity.

A list will be presented to consumer about the seeds from this collection that are available. Included on that list will be the tomatoes varieties that are extinct. Seeing this in black and white will have a big impact to the consumer. Included will be a brief explanation about how important their role as a seed saver will be in providing the profit (a valuable return or gain) for biodiversity. Simple, direct and effective. As is the end result of all successful business marketing techniques that drive monetary profits.

Page of old seed catalogue.Research, like any process has a life of its own. When I came up with the idea for the Historic Seed Map, it was a simple one. I thought a reference tool  for everyone to use for when and where vegetable seeds were sold, would fill in some gaps of missing information. Since a lot of varieties have vanished, this map could illustrate that be contrasting what was sold, and what is presently available. If a grower or a seed librarian wanted to procure available seeds of historically grown local varieties, then they had tool to use for that information.

The map will be a nice complement to seed banks and seed libraries. The tag line for the Library Seed Bank (LSB), seeds and knowledge, nourishment for your soul, focuses on seeds and knowledge. Seeds are the storehouse of knowledge about of the plants they produce. Libraries are the storehouses of the knowledge that society produces. It was natural for me to work with this duality because nature has many dualities, and nature is my ultimate inspiration.

Once that inspiration kicks in, and as with everything in life, once you're  start something new, you bring the energy, and the story brings the content. I had no idea of what the story of the seed map would tell me. I just knew I was fortunate enough to listen and become its storyteller.

Since the first seed library is going into the McCowan Memorial Library in Pitman, New Jersey, it was logical for me to start the research into what New Jersey seed companies offered to the public is bygone eras. Three miles from the McCowan library was Oral Ledden and Sons, a farmer supply company with a large seed room that I spent time in as a child. The foreshadowing of that a number of decades ago in this story is awesome, and not in the slang use of the word. I knew had to honor that, and the fact that suddenly, I just happened to procure two catalogs, each from a different decade. Wink.

Immediately, those catalogs dealt me a straight flush which in poker is the best hand possible. My inclination to see the biggest picture possible, and this time it seemed the picture was bigger then that. From there I pivoted to Wm. H, Maule Seeds, a seed company which had its seed farm seventeen miles to the south from the library in Newfield, New Jersey. Next up, the Johnson & Stokes Seed Company, which became Stokes Seed company with their seed farm twenty five miles to the northeast of the library in Moorestown, New Jersey.  And finally, I found that Burpee had their Sunnybrook Acres Farm in Swedesboro, New Jersey eleven miles from the library. Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers were grown at Sunnybrook.

Quite a start, and a good one at that. Along with the way, I've found some great anecdotes about the history of farming and agriculture in New Jersey, and the map will feature this kind of information when possible.

As I evaluate what I've come across, and see the gaps in the knowledge that's been lost in the past, and plan for the future, I see this project as one that will thrive and flourish like plants that will grow from the seeds that's it's about.

The results of this process do far has led to the following;

  • A collection of authentic Jersey tomatoes seeds at the seed library in PItman. We burst with pride here in Jersey about our tomatoes. Every  gardener will tell you they grow THE best tomatoes in their garden. And they do. Seriously, they do. The tomatoes they grow reflect what delights their senses, so like all gardeners, they grew the best vegetables for themselves because they grow what they like. It's just that here in Jersey our tomatoes are the best, period.There were three major seed farms within 40 miles of each other. Each one had their own development team working on seed lines. This lead to a decent number of tomato varieties being developed. This collection of authentic Jersey tomato seeds will reflect that.
  • I found varieties of tomatoes that are no longer around, but their parent lines are, and were listed in some catalogs. That's some information I didn't expect to find. This offers an opportunity to revive some vanished varieties. That's exciting to me.
  • In this previous post, I wrote about the Garden Journal, which will capture current information about people grow. If they submit them to LSB, a collection of local journals will become a large source of information for research. It will help prevent the missing information gap in what's been grown locally, and hopefully help with preservation projects.
  • I found some interesting information about a growing community here in southern New Jersey that appears to have demonstrated the principles of social businesses today. I have to follow this up. I wrote a three-part series, here, here, and here about what Lavazaa coffee is doing on a global level, and what Valley Girl Foodstuffs is doing at a local level as social businesses. This growing community seems to have been ahead of the curve.

So there you have it. I'm in awe of where this project will go. For now, that's all I have, and I couldn't be happier.

Reference card for Library Seed Bank It's been a while since an update, and a lot has happened. Here goes.

As the centerpiece of the Library Seed Bank (LSB), I will create a Historical Seed Map by mapping old local seed companies using vintage seed catalogs.

Concurrently, this will be an interactive education tool to preserve the history of the varieties that were grown locally through the years. Also, it will be a guide for the local seed banks to identify these seeds as living history of their local area, and procure the varieties if they are still available

...continue reading "Historic Seed Map and Seed Bank Progress"