Heritage Vegetables are So Trendy In New York That Sotheby's Is Now Auctioning Them

art farming photo

Image from Sotheby's

Sotheby's New York Auction House is holding an Art of Farming sale to support farmers' organizations in the New York state area. The items on the auction block are so amazing that you will want them all! Consider: cocktails and dinner on the green roof of a mansion, a tour of Union Square market with a chef who then makes your dinner, or a private tour for 2 for a more elite look, a tour of Beekman, the t.v. home of the Fabulous Beekman Boys, and meetings with famous authors and gardening experts.

Not to mention a live auction of heirloom vegetables from more than 40 local farmers from the New York tri-state area.

grow new york photo

Image from GrowNY

For one night, Sotheby's Manhattan showroom will be turned into a very fancy farmers' market with heirloom vegetables including Turkish Orange Eggplant, Lady Godiva Squash and Pink Banana Pumpkin up for sale for $1,000 a crate. All 40 lots have been grown by local farmers. Participants will be encouraged to donate $1,000 to buy heirloom vegetables for local food banks,

It's all in support of the GrowNYC New Farmer Development Project, which identifies, educates and supports immigrants with agricultural experience to become local producers and establish farms in the region, and The Sylvia Center, a program that inspires and teaches children to eat well through hands-on experience at Katchkie Farm and in school and community centers all over New York City.

sylvia centre photo

Image from Sylvia Center

Tickets aren't cheap but it's a fundraiser for a good cause. Maintaining and continuing old varieties of fruits and vegetables is important. |According to eat the seasons: England has already experienced diminishing numbers of varieties of apples being planted and sold, Between 1987 and 2003 the number of commercially-active UK apple growers declined from around 1,500 to 500 and production fell from over 250,000 tons to less than 150,000 tons a year. The demand has remained the same but the UK is importing more and more apples from South Africa, Chile, the USA and New Zealand, and even France and Italy where the growing season is basically the same as here.

The decline of apple growing leaves shoppers with less choices, in terms of variety and quality, at a higher cost to the environment. At the National Fruit Collection in Kent which is home to more than 2,000 different apples, more people are asking for heritage seeds.

According to the Wall Street Journal, heirloom vegetables have a different taste than their modified relatives and generally look different, as well. They also are more difficult to grow and variable in their yield, as some farmers are learning. One farmer said that "only about 25% of the tomato seeds he planted germinated. Normally his germination rate is between 95% and 98%. He fared better with the eggplant, with a 60% to 70% germination rate."

farmer auction photo

Image from wsjonline

Another farmer is donating his Red Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce to the auction, an heirloom variety he has been growing for years. It is susceptible to disease and doesn't travel well, but he says that the taste can't be beat: "It's superior to any lettuce that I know," he said. "It's a very tender delicate leaf that just melts in your mouth."

More on Heirloom Vegetables
An Heirloom Seed Library that's a Work of Art
Maharishi U Joins Seed Savers
The Fabulous Beekman Boys

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