- Commercial heirloom tomato. These are open pollinated tomato varieties more than 40 years old. They were introduced by seed companies before 1960.
- Family heirloom tomato. This refers to favorite tomato varieties whose seeds have been saved and passed down from generation to generation.
- Created heirloom tomato. These tomato strains have been crossed deliberately using two heirlooms, or an heirloom and a hybrid, to have certain characteristics. Initially a hybrid, it becomes dehybridized through saving and replanting the seeds for about 5 seasons, until it grows consistently true to what the grower has in mind.
- The mystery heirloom tomato. A tomato which arises accidentally from natural cross-pollination or mutation in the garden. This is the way most heirloom varieties originated.
By planting, harvesting, buying and eating heirlooms, you can help to re-establish a richer world, with more variety and better tasting tomatoes. Only by growing different varieties in a specific area can a gardener or farmer learn what varieties are best suited for their growing environment. This is an old-school approach that still makes a lot of sense in today's world, because it ensures a more diverse collection of plants over a larger geographic area. T-Farm is committed to growing heirlooms, and this year about 80% of our tomato varieties are heirlooms, like the unusual Italian variety shown in the photo above. Please support these efforts by buying, planting and eating heirloom varieties.