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July 15, 2008

Friend of a Farmer

Heirloom

by Mollie Chen

Ever since he selflessly traveled to California, Tennessee, and Maine to partake in sumptuous farm feasts for a feature on farm dinners, Tim Stark has been Traveler's favorite farmer. Now the man behind those famous Eckerton Hill tomatoes is about to become a star outside of the greenmarket: His first book, Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer, is out now. The memoir is both funny and engrossing, the winding tale of how a bookish consultant stumbled into the illicit world of rooftop agriculture and, years later, became Manhattan's most celebrated tomato farmer.

Rabid foodies will love the voyeuristic peeks into some of the city's best kitchens--Dave Pasternack and Daniel Boulud love Tim almost as much as we do--but I love the quirky accounts of everyday farm life. Even with his book hitting stores, Tim is still consumed by his crops; he is arranging a schedule of tomato dinner/readings that coincide with the Greenmarket schedule so he can sprint over to the restaurant as soon as his last pallets are empty. Tomorrow night, Jarnac kicks things off with a special dinner highlighting the first of the Eckerton Hill tomato crop; look for events at Telepan and Craft later this summer. Or you can do what I do and visit Tim at his Union Square stand, where it's always fun to watch him field questions with picky produce lovers and talk shop with local chefs. Either way, make sure to pick up a copy of Heirloom--it's the perfect thing to tuck into your eco-friendly tote on the way to the beach.

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