Posted on 18 May 2008 by

Tomato Casual Spotlight: Our Friend Ben

By Michael Nolan

One doesn’t need to look very far to understand Our friend Ben’s love for all things tomato.

I have long held to the theory that tomato love is somehow embedded in the genetic code of all southerners, so it was no surprise to learn that OfB was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee.

From the super-secret headquarters in scenic Pennsylvania, I caught up with the elusive OfB and was able to fire off a few questions.

Who would have guess that what started with a cacti dish garden in the 6th grade would expand into the one-acre Hawk’s Haven, surrounded by fields, woods and mountains from every angle. Our friend Ben still adores the maligned cactus, but has branched out quite a bit over the years to include plants of nearly any variety you might imagine.

One of the things that first drew my attention when I visited Our friend Ben’s blog “Poor Richard’s Almanac”, was our shared adoration and affinity for self-reliance and all that it entails. Quite possibly one of the most important aspects of true self-reliance is to live in harmony with nature, something that OfB believes in and practices whole-heartedly.

“I’ve always been an organic gardener. I love all of nature, and it just always made sense,” OfB explained. “When friends were reading escapist fiction in college, MY escapist fiction was fact–Mother Earth News, Organic Gardening, Helen and Scott Nearing’s “Living the Good Life.” I still subscribe to and religiously read publications like Backwoods Home, Mother Earth News, and Hobby Farms.”

The symbiotic, almost spiritual connection to the earth must be working. When I asked what OfB was growing this year, I was met with a pause — and with a good reason. It took a few minutes to respond, considering the list was nearly half a page long! Of particular interest to the TC crowd are the absolutely amazing tomato varieties that OfB considers must-haves:

– San Marzano
– Cherokee Purple
– Amish Paste
– Brandywines (pink, yellow, red and black)
– Yellow Pear
– Yellow Plum
– Sungold
– Sweet 100
– Southern Night
– Hugh’s
– Paul Robeson
– Latah

I have to admit to feeling just a touch of tomato envy, as this list dwarfed my own and gave this reporter a tremendous sense of inadequacy. As if that list wasn’t impressive enough to stand alone, Our friend Ben is growing so many fruits, veggies and herb plants that the yields would be enough to stock a busy farmer’s market.

Visit Our friend Ben’s blog.

3 Responses to “Tomato Casual Spotlight: Our Friend Ben”

  1. our friend Ben Says:

    Ha! I love the idea of “the super-secret headquarters,” which would make me feel like a veritable James Bond if I weren’t so much more like the hapless Inspector Clouseau. And you’re so right, “tomato” is to “Southern” like “mother” is to “earth.” Thanks for a great writeup, Michael! You and Tomato Casual are the best.

  2. deb Says:

    Yeah, ourfriendben at Poor Richards Almanac is good people and a great read.


  3. Michael Nolan Says:

    It’s easy to see that I love ofB and the rest of the regulars here at TC to death. You folks make my job a little easier, and my life a little better.

    Thanks, ya’ll.

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