Commercially introduced by us
I saw Villinger for the first time in a social media post about the Marion County, WV, Master Gardener Association’s tomato contest when gardener Ed Cheslock won the best tasting tomato award with the fruits in 2019. In early 2020, Tony Meluzio, a gardener and seed saver of Fairmont, WV, back then invited me to the association’s monthly meeting to give a lecture. This is when I met the elderly gardener who has been growing Villinger for generations in Fairmont, WV. After the meeting, I asked Meluzio if he could send me a few seeds for the tomato. Soon after, I received a few seeds in the mail.
When I contacted Tony in Fall 2021 to find out more details about the tomato, he kindly reached out to Ed Cheslock. I will quote Tony here:
“[Ed Cheslok] said that there was an elderly lady in the Graham Heights area of Fairmont who raised a garden. Cheslok was an appliance repairman. He had delivered a refrigerator to the lady and she had a yard full of tomatoes. She gave him some tomatoes and said “these will be the best tomatoes you have ever eaten.” He took them home and tried them and he agreed. For the next 3 years he would get seeds from her until one day she said, save seeds and grow your own. Her last name was Villinger and she had been growing them for generations and didn’t know the name. [As of 2021], he has been growing them for over 15 years and seed saving ever year. He told me he has sent seeds to people all over the US. He said Indiana, Pennsylvania and Michigan to name a few. Mr. Cheslock is now 85 and still seed saving. Mrs. Villinger has now passed but our understanding is that her son has [also] continued the tradition.”
Villinger produces large, roundish, pink fruits with great flavor. Fruits are more resistant to cracking and smaller than Sutton Family. We began harvesting fruits 70-75 days after transplanting our seedlings.
Packet has 20 seeds