Family Heirloom: Woys Weaver Talks Gardening

These are Happy Cat Tomatoes; Mountz is a Woys Weaver acolyteA few weeks ago, I got the chance to interview food historian and epic heirloom gardener William Woys Weaver. (Look for the profile in an upcoming issue of Grid.) Before I started my research, I didn't know much about heirloom gardening. It's fascinating that one can plant—and then eat—a tomato that people from a century ago ate every day. But what got me most excited was the natural taste these heirlooms possess.

Weaver told me about a corn that he loves to grow, which had been popular back in Native American times. “Well, this corn is different from the hybrid corn you get today," he explained. "When I made cornmeal mush with this, people thought I had put maple syrup in it. I said, no I haven’t. This is the way it tastes. Natural!”

I'm a big corn fan, and I can't think of anything more perfect than corn with the natural sweetness of maple syrup. As the growing season reaches its peak, I know I'll be on the lookout for interesting, heirloom varieties of everything from corn to tomatoes to summer squash. Life is just more interesting, and delicious, that way.