Our new tomato, Green Bee, is going to change the way many people think about tomatoes!
Green Bee is a new hybrid tomato that combines the features of a number of great tomatoes in a novel new green cherry tomato. The truth is that we had no idea we were creating Green Bee when we began the breeding project that produced it. In fact, we had no idea that a tomato like Green Bee was even possible.
Green Bee tomatoes have a completely unexpected combination of traits -- bright tangy-sweet flavor, long shelf-life and crunchy texture.
Green Bee cherry tomatoes never fully soften and they remain green, with only hints of yellows and sometimes pinks showing up when they are fully ripe. They soften slightly when they are ripe but they never fully soften. They can hang on the plant for over 2 weeks without becoming over-ripe.
Green bee tomatoes also have an "off the plant" shelf-life that is incredibly long. They can be kept for weeks at room temperature, and months if they are refrigerated. We have found that they hold flavor extremely well at approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and many people will find the Green Bee flavor to be enhanced by chilling.
The hybrid Green Bee plants are prolific, vigorous and have been selected for overall disease resistance.
Currently Green Bee is on the menu in a few of the restaurants we work with, and below are two examples of how they can be used by chefs. However Green Bee tomatoes are also very versatile, and are easily used in simple preparations at home.
One of Green Bee's parents has also been used to create Madera, a unique long-shelf-life cherry tomato.
We LOVE open-pollinated cherry tomatoes, and we grow many of them. But we have also learned to love old-fashioned hybrids, and our new hybrid cherry tomato, Madera, combines old-fashioned flavor with long shelf-life.
Open-pollinated varieties, which are typically genetically uniform have been selected over time, often by gardeners, farmers and breeders. Multiple generations of selection (after self pollination which occurs naturally) have been used to fine tune flavors and other characteristics. Heirlooms are typically created in this way.
Hybrids are made by crossing two "true-breeding" tomato varieties to each other. One is used as the male parent, and the other is used as the female parent. In the first generation after the cross (the F1 hybrid generation) all plants are uniform.
For the past 15 years we have been making true-breeding (open pollinated) varieties from initial hybrid crosses. Many of our varieties have been released to the public and are grown throughout the US and in many other parts of the world.
More recently, we have been carefully analyzing hybrids, and identifying exceptional hybrids to release as distinct varieties.
In working extensively with both open pollinated and hybrids, we have noticed the following:
1. Flavor and aesthetic traits can be optimized in open pollinated varieties.
2. Plant vigor, disease resistance and productivity (amount of fruit produced) is generally BETTER in a hybrid than in either of the parental lines used to create the hybrid.
3. Open pollinated lines often have a flaw or two that is "inbred" into the line.
4. The flaws of one parent in a hybrid are often compensated for by the other parent, and vice versa.
5. If both plants have great flavor, the hybrid will also have great flavor.
In short, hybrids seem to be able to do what open pollinated lines, like heirlooms, do best (namely taste good). But they are generally better producers and healthier plants.
This is even the case when two "heirloom" varieties are used to make a hybrid.
Talvez is another new gourmet hybrid we are making available with this project.
Talvez is a new medium-sized red tomato with yellow stripes. It has excellent flavor and good shelf-life.
Pink, Purple and Sunrise Bumblebee are 3 of our most popular cherry tomato varieties. They are all true-breeding, meaning that seed can be saved and they will grow true-to-form in the next generation. They are available from our collaborators at Johnny's Selected Seeds, but you can also get them as a part of one of our rewards!
The "All The Bees" reward will have 50 seeds each for the 3 Bumblebee varieties.
Our Collaborating Membership program lets people sample our best new things before they are made generally available.
For example, Green Bee, Madera and Talvez were all available to Collaborating Members this past year. Here is a list of what is available to collaborating members right now.
The Collaborating Membership last for 10 years. In other words, you get 5 new varieties to sample from every year until 2028!
What will we do with the funds?
As a small farming/breeding business we are working year-round to create new tomato varieties. Funds collected via this project will help with outstanding costs associated with producing the Green Bee, Madera and Talvez tomato seed (we are still paying for it), and will help us move other new varieties toward completion. Funds will also help us with the early-season pre-harvest costs associated with producing tomatoes and other items available to backers who choose the "Produce Discovery" reward.
Risks and challenges
There is no risk associated with the seed rewards for this project. We have the seed in hand, and we are currently packing it (although we are still paying for it).
There is little risk associated with the other rewards. We have been farming since 2006, and only a disaster could prevent us from delivering produce to backers who sign up for produce this summer. The "Collaborating Membership" reward is the most risky, but tomato breeding is our life's passion, and we do not intend to stop any time soon. We have been running this program for the last 4 years.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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