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Aunt Lou's Underground Railroad Tomato

Updated: Mar 15

I’m very fond of the idea that I can grow something in my garden that was passed down from an African traveling to freedom through the Underground Railroad.

The story is that this heirloom tomato was carried through the Underground Railroad from Kentucky into Ripley, Ohio. The Underground Railroad was a transportation system that helped many slaves escape from plantations in the American south into the northern states and, sometimes, into Canada. Harriet Tubman is probably the best known of the courageous conductor of the Underground Railroad.

We believe the seeds were passed along to Lou, a white woman, who lived in Ripley. Ripley was a stop along the Underground Railroad and now houses two preserved homes that were strips along the railroad - the John Rankin House and the John P. Parker House. Aunt Lou gave the seeds to her great nephew Francis Parker. Seeds were passed on to Aunt Lou, who then passed them to a great nephew. They eventually landed with Gary Millwood a collector of heirloom tomatoes in Louisville, Kentucky.

Botanical name: Lycopersicon lycopersicum or Solanum lycopersicum


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