Santa Cruz farmer "hacks" tomato genome to develop a Monsanto-free Early Girl

Mar 25, 2014

Flatland Flower Farm's greenhouse is holding many varieties of tomato starters ready for market, including a new variety, the "Dirty Girl."
Credit Image courtesy Flatland Flower Farm

With spring in full swing, it's time for gardeners to turn their attention to planting. On today's North Bay Report we visit Flatland Flower Farm in Sebastopol, where they're growing a tomato variety that is both brand new and a well loved favorite.  Joe Schirmer of Dirty Girl Produce in Santa Cruz is developing an Early Girl-like tomato. 

"The Early Girl is a great tomato, it's the best one I've ever had," says Schirmer. "And it's not the Early Girl's fault that Monsanto bought the company that grows it out." 

In 2005 Monsanto acquired the seed company Seminis and, with it, the rights to Early Girl. Schirmer, like many in the organic and local farming community, resent the influence Monsanto and other large agri-business companies have on growers and consumers . Schirmer has developed a tomato variety he's calling Dirty Girl that is like Early Girl, but is Monsanto-free. 

Flatland will be one of the first to commercially offer the plant next week.