At Beekman 1802, we are always inspired by the artisans we work with to create our products, but we also get inspired by people we meet “along the way”. We met artist Liz Carren at an event earlier this year and were inspired by her “starting life over” story. She’ll be one of the 150 vendors at this year’s Sharon Springs Harvest Festival. Find her booth and say ‘hi’.
Meet Heirloom Charlie, Our First Vegetable Beauty! Charlie is a sustainable farmer, no GMOs and organic are his “methods.” He pays homage to ALL farmers who honor Heirlooms (seeds, product and produce) and to The Fabulous Beekman Boys. Their concept of Heirloom Living is to be admired. Their pay it forward action displayed with their “Mortgage Lifter Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce” is such a great idea that I was inspired to create Heirloom Charlie. Sustainable farming, food, hard work and team efforts equal a life long result! This dovetails into the Botanical Beauties & Beasties mantra of Live Kind, Live Green,Live Creatively.
Heirloom Charlie’s story. A great thing happened at a garden symposium in VT. Botanical Beauties & Beasties was there as a vendor, and the Beekman Boys were there as a the final hurrah–wonderful speakers. I had just learned about thier pasta sauce and the whole story of “Mortgage Lifter” heirloom tomatoes. The pasta story is as follows – direct from the source of Beekman1802.com.
“…in 1920 a man named Marshall Cletis Byles owned an auto repair garage in Logan, West Virginia. When his business began suffering during the Great Depression, Marshall (who went by the nickname “Radiator Charlie,”) decided to earn extra money by selling the best tasting tomato variety he could breed. It took a few years, but Charlie finally bred his perfect tomato. He advertised that one single plant, with its 1-2 lb fruits, could feed a family of six. And he wound up selling enough seedlings in four years to pay off his mortgage. In full. Hence “Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomato” was born.”
The Beekman farm had a field of tomatoes they had planned to use as pasta sauce to help pay their mortgage. Then they won The Amazing Race and they paid off thier mortage.
“Then it hit us. We’ll use these tomatoes pay off another small farm’s mortgage! Pay it forward. So we went ahead and kept developing the pasta sauce. We used the best tomatoes from our farm and other farms, fresh garlic and spices, and other summer vegetables. And we went ahead and stuck with the name: “Mortgage Lifter Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce.”
I was lucky and had the opportunity to meet Brent and Josh at the garden event. Having known I wanted to create an organic farmer, when I heard their talk it suddenly became crystal clear. His name had to be Radiator Charlie, it sounds so fun and it represents all I wanted it to!
I will donate 15% of every piece with an image of Heirloom (Radiator) Charlie to aid local sustainable farming as represented by Long Life Farm in MA. Long Life Farm is an organic small CSA farm that is striving to go beyond organic to grow more nutritious, nutrient dense vegetables, thereby giving people the minerals they need to fight disease. They also happen to grow Mortgage Buster tomatoes! Why them? Well because: they offer two shares at 50% off to two low income families for the season, they donate to three local food pantries, and Laura Davis, one of the owners and farmers, is on the Board of the Northeast Organic Farming Association a 501c-3. They are running a new program called CSA Connect, which aims to connect more urban and low income families with CSAs and their fresh produce. You can look them up at: http://www.nofamass.org/ and http://www.longlifefarm.com/
I hope you enjoy Heirloom Charlie (aka Radiator Charlie)-his beet tattoo and his dill hair are two of my favorite details!