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Heat Islands

Posted 8/2/2020 6:33pm by David Zemelsky.

We need to start with tomatoes.  As you know, we've been starting, planting, grafting, pruning and loving tomatoes since January 10th (or so). For the past month, there's been a slowly emerging harvest that has gotten bigger every week.  There's been a lot of disappointment for people when we've run out.  That's probably not going to happen for a while.  The "Tomato Waterfall"  arrived suddenly on Friday between 11AM and 5PM.  Tomato Waterfall simply means that a tremendous supply of tomatoes has gotten ripe and will hopefully remain that way for several weeks.  That's a 6 month wait.  But, like anything wonderful that you can think of, its worth the wait. Totally.

I'll start with the cherry tomatoes.  The Sun Golds are bright orange and as sweet as a teaspoon of sugar.  Unless you don't like sweet, these are for you.  Then there's Black Cherry, which are multi flavored.  Savory in some ways.  When people ask the difference between Sun Golds and Black Cherry, my response is that SG's are simple and sweet like grammar school and BC's are complex and multilayered like graduate school.  Both are exquisite.  Then there's Juliet, a small plum shaped tomato that is so versatile.  A great salad enhancer and also great to cook with.  The Artisan Group is multi colored and multi flavored.  I love them and will leave it at that.

Heirlooms.  One has to have the patience of a good parent with heirloom tomato plants.  They grow and put out vegetation any way they feel like it.  My goal is to prune them to two main branches that will help create large, beautiful and delicious fruit.  The plant, however, will do everything in its power to "branch out".  Sometimes, there'll be a load of tomatoes that will, almost as a second thought, put out a stem with more blossoms.  I'll cut these back for the most part and coax the plant into concentrating on the real estate that I've carved out for them.  Pruning has been almost my soul activity on the farm for a few months.  I'll disappear down a row and go on to the next and the next.  When I've been through all the houses, its already time to start at the beginning again and prune again.  The tomato plants gets real busy putting out more and more blossoms.  This is how it preserve itself for posterity-make a lot of fruit and seeds for the years ahead.  The plant is both in the present and the future at the same time.  Very wonderful.

About the taste experience of having an heirloom.  A good heirloom is one of the most intense and wonderful taste experiences you'll ever have. Ever.  One has to be slow, deliberate and mindful to maximize your ability to appreciate what you've got.  Here's what I do.  The core can often be green and tough, so I'll carefully remove it and feed it to Maria (dog, number 1. Big 60 lb omnivore).  Then I'll slice the remaining tomato into bite sized chunks.  For me the bottom with its tender, sweet skin is the best  part.  Kind of like the heart of an artichoke.  These go on your favorite plate.  Two different things can happen here.  One, get the coarse Kosher salt and sprinkle it on everywhere-then enjoy.  The second thing would be that it gets my own brand of salad dressing after the salt.  Either way, its one of Summer's top delights.  Salad making recipe available upon request.  Hint: get some of our garic.

Like our carrots, if you don't jump up in the air with total delight upon trying these, let me know and I'll give you free ones next week.  Its not going to happen.

Sun Golds in all their glory!

As it looks on 8/2/20 in the hoop house.  These plants are at least 10 feet tall!

This picture should give you a good idea about the color and vibrance of our tomatoes.  Note that 2 or 3 have splits.  These are actually the best tasting right now.

Switching gears lets look at "Heat Islands".  I want to start by making reference to a particularly inaccurate letter that appeared in the Town Times this past Friday.  The writer stated that environmental issues and racism were two separate issues.  One has nothing to do with the other.  Oh, my goodness, where to start!  The fact is that cities are going to be much hotter than surrounding suburban areas.  Tree canopy, and heat retaining cement are two obvious differences.  There's just much more cement and less trees in cities.  People of color with low incomes often find themselves in situations that are even worse for heat-hence the term "heat island".  Because of economic differences, these low income folks find themselves living in areas with even less green spaces and even more cement.  The difference in temperature in a city can vary as much as 12 degrees.  The extra heat will have a profoundly negative effect on people living in these circumstances.  Air quality is just one of the things that are much worse when the temperature is elevated.  More people die from heat factors than hurricanes, tornadoes or floods.  This is one of many ways that Racism and climate change are intertwined.

Red lining can be traced to the origin of all this.  By denying African Americans access to the same lending system that Whites have enjoyed for decades, entrenched areas of almost every major city shows that the heat islands are located in the areas that were originally redlined.  Portland , Oregon for example shows a 12 degree difference between redline and non-redline neighborhoods.

The study referenced above was conducted by Portland State University and the Science Museum of Virginia. They conclude their study by saying, “By recognizing and centering the historical blunders of the planning profession over the past century, we stand a better chance for reducing the public health and infrastructure impacts from a warming planet.”

When and if your town begins to figure out ways to make housing equitable for all people, I hope that you'll remember this concept and help figure out ways for there to be equity in our world.  Justice for all, not "just us."

Please stay safe.  Remember that if you don't get an email confirmation, we can't see your order.  Try ordering again.  If that doesn't work, give a call.

Think "Tomato Waterfall"!