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Old March 18, 2018   #1
mouka_f_slouka
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Default Morocco Heirloom Tomatoes

Howdy all?

I have been away for a while because of serious personal reasons.
Anyway, I am back and trying to grow some tomatoes and other vegetables.
Now I am looking for some Moroccan heirloom tomatoes. The reason I am asking this is because I grew up in a very small town on the edge of the desert and we mostly ate what was produced locally. Mind you this was in the 60s and 70s. I clearly remember the tomatoes were absolutely delicious. I used to grab one or two with a pinch of salt and go wonder around in the gardens and forest.
I have been away from Morocco for over 30 years and I now know that they use the same crappy tomatoes we see all over the US. These are red "thingies" that look like tomatoes but have no flavor and have a shelf life of over 100 years.
If there are some Moroccan members of this forum and happen to have seeds of some heirlooms, I would love to hear from them. If not and they at least know which varieties used to be cultivated in Morocco a few decades ago, I would be delighted to have that type of information.

Thanks!
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Old March 19, 2018   #2
Nan_PA_6b
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Hi Mouka,

Here is a little bit of information I found.

This tomato
http://tatianastomatobase.com/wiki/Moya

And this man who is a Moroccan tomato farmer who grows heirlooms in an organic way. His contact information is at the end of the article:
http://www.regenerationinternational...llah-boudhira/

Hope this helps

Nan
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Old March 19, 2018   #3
Andrey_BY
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What a great story of farming!
And Moya tomato looks very fantastic - good acidic and juicy that's what I like to have from tomato fruit!
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Old March 22, 2018   #4
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Yes, thanks Nan that was so interesting.

ICARDA is working hard to conserve grains and legumes. But maybe not tomatoes?
https://phys.org/news/2016-11-morocc...imate-war.html
http://www.seedvault.no/2017/10/27/i...n-and-morocco/

I looked through the first 500 accessions just searching for "Morocco" here and ticked "include historic":
https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/search.aspx
and I found these:

PI 123433 Aurore
PI 123434 Hatif de Cologne
PI 123435 Gloria de Mordin
PI 123436 Reine de Reives
PI 123437 Potager de Viljoule
PI 123438 Sans Parcille

There are a couple more on the list - mostly not available ones - if you use "tomato" as the search term and add the advanced search to choose "Morocco" as country. Then you can click on the accession number links and read about them.
It looks like Aurore and the others in this group of numbers were obtained May 1937
https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlo...spx?id=1132269
and there's one unnamed one before that, from 1936
https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlo...spx?id=1130568

I haven't gotten seeds from the gene bank myself, but some people have been successful, others not? Someone else can give you advice about it, I hope.
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Old March 22, 2018   #5
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Well, here's one of them available for 50 cents at Heritage Seed Market!
https://heritageseedmarket.com/index...r-de-viljoule/
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Old March 23, 2018   #6
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Mouka, this may be your best bet!

Bower, thanks for all that legwork!

Nan
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Old March 23, 2018   #7
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According to the article you linked, Nan, the switch to hybrids happened in the 1980's, so maybe a decade after Mouka last enjoyed those heirlooms. It's so tragic that the seeds are then lost to the farmers. So what a save, to find they have been maintained in the bank!

Other than the Potager de Viljoule, the only reference I could find to any of the others is on Vent Marin with the comment that they are listed in a seed bank in Canada (? maybe an error, I don't know if there is or not). So in any case they have not remained in circulation anywhere. It would be awesome if Mouka can get the seeds and grow them out again!
Best of luck, Mouka!
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Old March 23, 2018   #8
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The farmer in the article is growing Moroccan heirlooms. It's possible one can find out from him where he got his seeds.

Nan
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Old March 25, 2018   #9
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I contacted that Moroccan farmer. You know what's funny about him? He buys his seeds from a USA heirloom supplier: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
This is extremely ironic. I live in the USA and wanted some Moroccan seeds. It turned out Moroccan farmers, at least the modern ones, are buying their seeds from the good old US of A. Go figure!
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Old March 25, 2018   #10
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Great and useful information! Thanks for the help!
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Old March 26, 2018   #11
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I am not surprised that anyone from anywhere in the world likes to order seeds from the US - but happily, there are now many inexpensive gardening web sites popping up in Europe too.

Perhaps the old Maroccon varieties really have been either forgotten with modern hybrids, or, you need to find a family who used to grow tomatoes back then..

I find it awesome that people have the patience and courage to grow tomatoes in a place that has such extreme weather conditions and probably way more diseases to battle than here in the North. (even with our cold weather we do get some diseases...)
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Old March 26, 2018   #12
mouka_f_slouka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NarnianGarden View Post
I am not surprised that anyone from anywhere in the world likes to order seeds from the US - but happily, there are now many inexpensive gardening web sites popping up in Europe too.

Perhaps the old Maroccon varieties really have been either forgotten with modern hybrids, or, you need to find a family who used to grow tomatoes back then..

I find it awesome that people have the patience and courage to grow tomatoes in a place that has such extreme weather conditions and probably way more diseases to battle than here in the North. (even with our cold weather we do get some diseases...)
Moroccan farmers in the southwest area, that's where that farmer is, have been producing tomatoes for decades now. They export most of their crops to Europe. One of the side effects of this intensive farming is the slow depletion of the groundwater reserves. There isn't enough rain to replenish those underground water reserves. The farmers are digging deeper and deeper to reach those fossil water reserves.
As for the diseases and bugs that ruin tomato crops, there are more and more of them because exactly of the varieties that were introduced and on whose backs these pests have hitched a ride. The winters are not cold enough to kill off these diseases. They reproduce at record numbers and sometimes bring ruin to large farms. Small farms do not have as much debt and can always rebound by borrowing small amounts of money from relatives or neighbors. Big farms are on the hook with banks and this has disastrous consequences.
I will go to small villages and look for seeds this summer. I planned on doing it anyway.
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Old March 26, 2018   #13
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Thanks for that info - I recall seeing some Moroccon cherry tomaties here as well (although not as common as those from Spain) .. Yes, I can image the challenges, both with the water and the diseases. Hopefully there will be more ecological solutions available in the future..

I knew Morocco is a large producer of argan oil, which is an important ingredient in the beauty industry these days.
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Old March 26, 2018   #14
mouka_f_slouka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NarnianGarden View Post
Thanks for that info - I recall seeing some Moroccon cherry tomaties here as well (although not as common as those from Spain) .. Yes, I can image the challenges, both with the water and the diseases. Hopefully there will be more ecological solutions available in the future..

I knew Morocco is a large producer of argan oil, which is an important ingredient in the beauty industry these days.
Argan tree grows in one place in the entire planet: Western Morocco around the cities of Essaouira and Safi. The constant drought has taken a huge toll on the Argan tree forests. Add to it grazing by goats and the problem is compounded 10 times.
Morocco has become the Florida of Europe. European retirees are moving to Morocco to enjoy the year-round nice weather as well as affordable housing and food. They can even afford to have house maids and cooks. This would have been impossible in Europe for the vast majority of them.
Some Europeans even are using their homes as small hotels and are getting even richer. The ones that are left behind are low class Moroccans and that includes small farmers.
I sincerely wish these small farms rediscover sustainable farming as well as heirloom varieties. In fact around cities like Rabat, it is Morocco's capital, organic farming has enabled some farmers to make a decent living by selling organic vegetables to city folks. I have seen some farmers drop GMO seeds and return to the old ways and reap huge rewards for doing just that. Moroccans, just like everybody else, are caring more and more about what they eat. They realize how tasty heirloom vegetables are compared to the "atrocities" that are sold for vegetables in markets. Just compare what a heirloom tomato tastes like compared to what you can buy from your local grocery store. I personally do not consider them tomatoes any more. They are freak genetic experiments that are used for color and shelf life. Taste is at the bottom of the list when it comes to selecting desirable features by growers and sellers.

Last edited by mouka_f_slouka; March 26, 2018 at 11:57 AM.
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