A bird's poop — and incredible aim — is likely the culprit

By Ana Calderone
September 05, 2019 04:23 PM
Matt Frey

The story behind this tomato is juicy.

A resilient tomato plant was spotted growing on a wooden piling in the middle of the East River in New York this week, and now the phenomenon is warming hearts everywhere. News of the fruit growing in the unlikely place was first published by the New York Times on Wednesday along with a photo taken by a passerby, Matthew Frey.

Frey was out on the water on his paddleboard between Pier 1 and 2 in Brooklyn Bridge Park when he saw the leaves. “I’m used to seeing things grow here, but nothing as special as that,” Frey, 54, told the Times. “Things like that just make me happy.”

According to the newspaper, the tomato is eight piles back — barely visible from the pier without binoculars — and as of Tuesday, still thriving.

How it got there in the first place is merely an educated guess, albeit a humorous one.  “It’s a bird, for sure,” said Tyrome Tripoli, another witness to the miracle. “They eat it, and they crap it somewhere else.”

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Jim Giovannoni, a tomato expert and United States Department of Agriculture molecular biologist at Cornell, confirmed the theory to the Times: “A bird’s probably the best bet.”

Tripoli further guessed that the poop had to have landed directly in the center of a hole made by a large nail.

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Since @nytcooking posted Frey’s photo to Instagram on Wednesday night, it has received over 43,000 likes and 1,200 comments — becoming their most popular post in weeks. The comments section is filled with inspiring messages like “Be the tomato,” and cleaver puns. “The Tomato That Grew From Concrete,” @thetasteofhome account posted, riffing on Tupac Shakur’s famous collection of poems.

It’s become a symbol of perseverance: “The little tomato that could,” wrote another fan.