Regional Variety research
Through our on-farm research, we are evaluating, trialing and actively breeding new varieties for the Long Island region.
Also, part of our initiative will be comprehensively providing historical data and information of Long Island and regional varieties. While some of these varieties are lost forever or on the verge of extinction it is important to have a record of them. We aim to make this compilation of historical ephemera and information available to everyone; from scholars to school gardens. It absolutely critical that a tangible written history be maintained so food culture can be passed on to future generations in addition to being celebrated now, rather than being lost to time.
We are currently researching, growing and building the seed stock of several heirloom varieties native to the island. We are working to ensure these older heirlooms thrive once again on Long Island and become a unique part of the region's food culture.
breeding new regional varieties
Along with researching older heirlooms, the LIRSC works with breeders, farms and chefs to breed new regionally adapted vegetables. Through our on-farm research, we are evaluate and trial to expand diversity, to ensure public availability and most important of all, to perfect taste! Currently, we are trialing several summer and winter squashes, corns, tomatoes and fall and spring greens. We hope to perfect the strain and submit them to the Open Source Seed Initiative.
The history of the Shinnecock tomato can be traced back to a currant tomato that is believed to have originated in Mexico. The story stretches out across decades and geography as the seed has passed through many hands and hearts. The present incarnation of this variety involves a few key players: Native Seed Search, Lamonte Smith, Jean Mundy, Seed Savers Exchange, and Steph Gaylor.
In the 1980‘s Lamonte Smith, as he was preparing a garden featuring native American varieties, began seeking seed sources such as Native Seed Search to grow and increase populations to share.
During a garden tour, Lamonte Smith generously shared the tomato seed with a psychology professor at Southampton named Jean Mundy. In true seed saver fashion, Professor Mundy mailed the seeds to Seed Savers Exchange.
SSE cataloged the seeds and not much interest was shown in the small current tomato until Steph Gaylor (local farmer, seed saver and founder of LIRSC) in search of regional orphan varieties to grow out, requested the “Shinnecock Tomato” as SSE had named this variety.
LIRSC began stewarding the seed in 2012. The strength of the seed community saved the small tomato who’s ancestor is believed to be wild.
The LIRSC now offers the Shinnecock tomato to the wider community.