Design New England

Around New England: Defiant Tomatoes

By William Morgan

Photo credits: William Morgan


It has not been a great year for tomatoes. The succulent fruit that defines the success of one’s summer garden has been at least a month late this year.


But this has not deterred Harold Ward (above), the person who knows more about tomatoes than anyone I know. The chemist, lawyer, and founder of Brown University’s environmental studies program shepherded 20-some varieties in his garden along the Wood River in rural southern Rhode Island.


Both scientist and gracious host, Ward annually invites my wife and me down to his place to taste a dozen examples of the summer’s crop. The 12 varieties included some old standbys, such as Cherokee Purple, Persimmon, Brandywine, and Fourth of July. But the names can get fancy: Fremgens Rheinlands Ruhm, Black Krim, and Mr. Bruno.


Like a wine tasting, one cleanses the palette, but with lightly fried patty pan squash. Any fresh garden-grown tomato can suggest summer, but my nod in this contest went to the Defiant, a tomato that is resistant to both early and late blight. It might not have been a great summer for tomato growers, but it was a great day for us tasters.

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