More than twenty years ago, Dr. Fred Hempel, a trained plant biologist and food enthusiast, quit his stable corporate job and made it his life's goal to develop the perfect tomato. With financing from a small group of friends and fellow enthusiasts, Fred assembled many of the old forgotten heirlooms and began the painstaking task of intercrossing those varieties and selecting the best off-spring. After many generations, and trials with collaborators around the world, Fred established a pool of high-quality new breeding material, which he called the "Artisan" lines, and which were sold under the "Artisan Seeds" brand name. This material was then further intercrossed to produce elite hybrids that have been extensively tested and validated by chefs, gardeners, and high-end grocery stores.
After years of operating hand-to-mouth, in 2022, Fred decided that it was time to take the plunge and to make his varieties available to a wider audience. To do this required capital, so along with his friends and family, he rebranded and created a new company: Bene Seeds, which raised funds from an angel investor, providing for much needed financial stability and the hiring of a small team. The tomato collection was formally assumed by Bene Seeds - Fred and his family became substantial shareholders, and Fred was duly appointed full-time Principal Breeder and CTO ("Chief Tomato Officer").
Tragically and unexpectedly, Fred passed away after a short illness on October 31, 2023. He is deeply missed, and we have lost a very dear friend and irreplaceable colleague. However, we remain more determined than ever to make good on Fred's life's goal and honor his legacy, with the continued support of his family. As Bene Seeds, we continue to travel in search of the perfect tomato by breeding with outstanding germplasm that Fred created. We invite you to visit our new website at:
Oliver, Christian and Omer
Bene Seeds leadership, and long time friends of Fred