Dayna McDaniel, co-founder of Seed-Savers, KC, shares with reporter Cindy Hoedel of the Kansas City Star Magazine her reason for starting Seed-Savers, KC and the first seed she ever saved.
It was a tomato presented to me by a neighbor, back in the 1970s. I had just moved into the neighborhood and I noticed this yard, and I was just flabbergasted. It was a paradise yard. It was one of those yards where you just want to meet whoever is gardening there. It was hard to figure out if somebody really lived there because I never saw anybody there. But I knew somebody had to live there or there wouldn’t be this beautiful garden. And then one weekend there was a woman outside. She was this ancient, ancient, ancient person. I thought, “Oh, my goodness gracious!” and I went up to her, and she started taking me around her yard. The tomatoes were coming ripe, and she said, “I’m going to share these tomatoes with you that I brought from Arkansas back in the ’50s, and I have to ask you to pass them on. It’s very important.” Then she handed me some Yellow Currant tomatoes — they are tiny and unbelievably sweet, just a marvelous flavor. And she took one of the tomatoes over to an empty spot in the garden and with her little arthritic thumb she squished it into the ground and said, “That’s what you do with it, and it will take care of itself.” So I took the tomatoes and planted them, and the next time I went back she had passed away. I don’t know her name or anything about her, but I am still growing her tomatoes today. I have spread them all over the place. I send some along with every seed request I get through the Seed Savers Exchange yearbook. I like to think she would like that.