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The tomato that paid the mortgage

August 4, 2008 |  1:18 pm

Sage real estate editors and reporters will tell you that any story can be a real estate story. (Witness Peter Viles’ filing last week on that chunky foreclosed-upon cat.)

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So it was flipping through “In Praise of Tomatoes” (2004),  by Ronni Lundy, in search of a summer recipe, that I found this tale: Back in the '30s, West Virginia mechanic M.C. Byles cross-bred four hefty varieties to come up with plants that yielded tomatoes averaging 2.5 pounds. Selling the plants for $1 apiece, he was able to pay off his $6,000 mortgage in six years. These heirloom tomatoes, still around and available for purchase, are called Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifters.

Of course it’s unlikely anyone’s mortgage woes today will be solved by a tomato. But who can top that for an unlikely way to pay off a home loan?

-- Lauren Beale

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Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

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