Besides the volunteers from Hands On Greater Portland and Multnomah County’s Community Service Program who provide vital labor for the County CROPS farm, this project exists because of essential donations from community members. Gales Meadow Farm, an Oregon Tilth Certified Organic farm based in western Washington, is one such organization that has donated starts and seeds to County CROPS.
While Gales Meadow is not too far from County CROPS, one plant that came from this farm has roots that extend much further than western Washington. The Italian Heart tomato seeds planted at the CROPS site last year were a gift from one of Gales Meadows’ Rene’ Berblinger’s friends, a woman who formerly was a librarian to the starry scientists at the National Radio Astronomy Laboratory in Charlottesvile, Virginia. She got the seeds from a neighbor, whose great-grandfather brought them to the United States from Italy.
The first year Gales Meadow grew the Italian Heart tomato, they named it after the two women who helped bring the seeds to the farm. Eventually, because of the tomato’s unusual shape and origin, Gales Meadow’s Anne Berblinger changed the name to Italian Heart. When these starts are sold at the Berblinger’s farm, people are at first resistant to its droopy appearance, but they usually end up coming back for this curious plant with a unique story again and again.