"I came upon a trash bin loaded with basement scraps: water pipes, furring strips, two-by-fours studded with nails that could be straightened out. From these scraps, I saw in a flash of insight, I could construct a seed-germination rack. In the gardening catalogs, a deluxe seed-starting kit, complete with full-spectrum light and soil-heating mats, cost $800. Which I didn’t have. What I did possess — or so I fancied — was a farmer’s resourcefulness..."Tim Stark graduated from Princeton in 1984, which is how I came to read his story A farm grows in Brooklyn in the Princeton Alumni Weekly. (Let me tell you, it's not all that fun to have graduated from a college where the alumni are so successful that they need to tell you about themselves not monthly but once every seven days. Actually, the magazine comes out every two weeks. But still.) Tim began cultivating heirloom tomato seeds in his Brooklyn brownstone as a diversion from his career as a writer. He drove the seedlings to land where he'd grown up in Pennsylvania and started a little vegetable patch. Tim's book Heirloom: Notes From an Accidental Tomato Farmer is published by Random House, but if you're economizing I recommend reading the article.
Tim's story is inspiring because not only did he craft a seed germinator from his local rubbish bin, but he made a career out of juicy little numbers like Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra and Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter. After all, heirloom non-hybrid seeds like these should be celebrated and enjoyed — they're the ultimate example of cradle-to-grave recycling.