The two plots are small – 8X11 and 8X14 – and hold 32 tomato plants. By early November, those plants had yielded 3,527 large tomatoes.

“We pulled a bunch of green tomatoes the other day to give away – 408 of them,” says Steve Brister, a tomato enthusiast. “It’s getting chilly so they had to come out. We’re expecting a frost tonight so this should be the end of the season.”

Gallery of Brister's plots/tomatoes here.

That frost will close a bountiful harvest that has found its way into many Mississippi hill kitchens. There is a good reason for that: a pledge Brister made in early summer.

“By June, we’d had three periods of no rain. At that time, we’d been helping my wife’s parents get into assisted living. One Thursday afternoon, I had to travel to Jackson to help them. The plots were very dry and I just had to leave them alone.

“I told the Lord it was in His hands. I said, ‘I tell you what, Lord. If you’ll find a free minute to help with these tomatoes, I’ll give them all away.”

Brister was away for four days. “I came back home and those plots had been rained on twice and the plants had grown two feet. The third set of blooms had set tomatoes.

“I walked back in the house and told my wife, ‘We’re in business, girl. We’re fixing to have a whole bunch of tomatoes to give away.’”