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Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer Paperback – July 14, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Heirloom...is an instant classic of gentleman farmer literature." —Carly Berwick, Bloomberg.com
"Tim Stark is a natural-born storyteller—funny, poignant, and unerringly authentic. Charming with a capital C.”
—John Grogan, author of Marley & Me
Top Customer Reviews
Did you see the YouTube video of the elephant painting a picture? The elephant holds a brush in his trunk and paints a self-portrait. It was one hell of a great painting for an elephant. I feared Heirloom would leave me thinking `great book for a farmer.' Well, my fears were groundless. Heirloom is a great book for any writer of English language prose.
Tim Stark writes with wit, economy, and remarkable style. I'm a big fan of John McPhee's nonfiction. Heirloom makes reference to McPhee's Giving Good Weight, which chronicled the early days of the Union Square Greenmarket where Stark sells his prize tomatoes. Among the farmers Stark talks to is Alvina Frey, the New Jersey bean grower McPhee described as the essence of that market.
But Heirloom reminds me more of McPhee's 1966 classic, Oranges. The back cover of Oranges quotes Roderick Cook's review from Harper's magazine, "This is a surprising book. You may come to the end of it and say to yourself, `But I can't have read a whole book about oranges!' But the chances are you will have done so... It's a delicious book...Read more ›
Stark confronts an endless succession of obstacles and problems -- ignorance, weather, inadequate and balky equipment, lack of ready cash, insufficient labor, an obstreperous jerk of a neighbor, and insects, deer, and gophers -- each of which he somehow overcomes, or circumvents, or, at a minimum, learns to live with. Thankfully (for me, at least), Stark does not dwell on tedious agricultural details. This is not a gardener's journal; if anything, it probably is of greater interest to the appreciative consumer of organic farming than the practitioner. Interesting subjects discussed at some length are the Amish and Mennonites of the area, the farmer/chef relationships that have developed and undergird some of the most noted restaurants in NYC, and the bleak future for similar agricultural operations catering to urban markets, due to shrinking affordable farmland.
Stark's writing is above average, occasionally quite good, but it is uneven and at times a little disjointed and unnecessarily confusing.Read more ›
Without pretense or rehearsed narrative, Stark recounts his humble initiations into organic farming (and supplying top chefs in NYC), knowing very little about it, other than what his obsessions demand. His misadventures amuse. It's not perfect writing, yet it is exactly those imperfections that endear this find.
Detours from the narrative will surprise and delight. Unexpected passages include how Mennonite neighbors coach Stark in farming, auction etiquette and small engine repair. (The last paragraph in that chapter is especially moving.) And vignettes give depth and color to an unlikely cast of characters who help Stark plant, pick, sell and save his crops. Best of all, Stark unearths a family history that gives context and perhaps motivation to his madness. While it is all true, it reads like fiction, a story that you'll surely recommend and remember.
A fantastic late-summer read and welcome winter remedy for gardening/foody obsessives that crave the first signs of Spring.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More than you'll ever need to know about the frustrations of tomato farming. But if you are into organic growing could be an enriching story.Published 6 months ago by PB
I read this book in hardcover. This could have been a truly great book, and even as it is, a bit rambalicious, needing an editor who would push back on Tim's wanton disregard for... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Sam Slipper
I like Tim's style of writing, he is good to unwind with after a tense day. His humor comes through in the mundane affairs on the 'farm' as well as in the unexpected. Read morePublished on October 15, 2013 by John
Not what I expected but nevertheless an interesting subject. In lieu of a typical gardening compendium, this book is an account of one man's pursuit of a lifelong occupation. Read morePublished on December 31, 2012 by Urick Estep
Found this book in the library by accident when I was looking for some gardening references, didn't realize it was more of a novel. But once I started reading it I was hooked. Read morePublished on July 17, 2012 by ArtnSoul
I did not enjoy this book at all. I do not recommend it. Toward the end there is a really disgusting story about the guy trapping a groundhog in a cage, he throws the cage into... Read morePublished on April 21, 2012 by sunny day
I liked this book at first, then it turned into a less interesting story that gives the author the opportunity to name-drop chefs and restaurants most people out side of NYC never... Read morePublished on June 19, 2011 by A. Yates
I thought I'd learn about growing heirloom tomatoes from this book. Not so. It's just a journal for a guy who stops his writing day job to grow tomatoes, and doesn't share what... Read morePublished on June 9, 2011 by AL
I never wanted to put it down. I really enjoyed reading about the ups and downs of his tomato farming experience. As a farmer and student, it was a quick but enjoyable book. Read morePublished on April 9, 2011 by Anna