University of Pittsburgh

400 Craig Hall

Homegrown Adventure

Written by Cindy Gill

My hairdresser Gregory just moved to West Palm Beach after nearly a decade in Pittsburgh. He had one of those spur-of-life moments, when he decided to sell everything, buy a tiny house near the beach, and become the Gregory he always wanted to be. Already I miss him, because in our appointed conversations (every six weeks), I always learned something interesting and, often, useful.

For instance, Gregory enlightened me about Black Krim tomatoes, an heirloom fruit supposedly originating on the Isle of Krim in the Black Sea. An avid gardener, he had discovered them in a Burpee catalog and, being adventurous, decided to grow them in his backyard garden. They were, he said, the best tomatoes he had ever eaten in his 40-something years of life. Ugly, yes, but exceptionally delicious, especially with a sprinkling of salt.

So the very next January, I went to Burpee online and ordered three Black Krim plants. One survived, and I ardently tended it all summer long. Watering. Weeding. Eyeing it carefully every day.  Finally, last August, I picked the first ripe yield and cut into it as though it were a

precious gift from the gods. Just as Gregory had said, the tomato’s innards looked dark and squishy, almost off-putting. But the first bite was worth it. The tomato was bursting with deep, rich flavor.

Since then, I haven’t been able to eat those bland, cardboard-tasting facsimiles of tomatoes that show up in many supermarkets. Instead, I’ve searched for heirloom varieties or locally grown versions in neighborhood markets. Happily, they’re more and more abundant—at Whole Foods, farmers markets, and even at my neighborhood grocery this summer. In fact, all kinds of fresh, local, organic foods are cropping up, so to speak, in abundance.

The cover story in this issue highlights this farm-to-table movement. An urban Pitt program is helping to improve the operations of down-home farms so that more of us can experience the benefits of local produce.

The key to Pitt’s success is an enterprising focus, which happens to reflect the essence of many of the stories in this issue, whether it’s the search to cure cancers; the quest to understand the invisible impact of vibrations; or an artist’s singular vision, explored in multiple forms.

In these feature stories and in most of the content here, there’s a spirit of adventure, a quest to explore possibilities. At Pitt, that impulse produces life-enriching benefits. I’m sure Gregory would admire that, wherever he is at the moment.

Cindy Gill

Editor in Chief