The Gettle family.

Being a modest man of humble origins, it's difficult to glean from Jere Gettle just how he came to be something of an apostle for a pure food movement, or, according to a New York Times magazine headline, one of "The Evangelists for Heirloom Vegetables." Lacking in bombast, not given to hyperbole or self-promotion, much less sermonizing, the seedsman from Missouri seemed pleasantly surprised by all the fuss when asked recently about the meteoric growth of the business he began just 14 years ago, when Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds sent out its first mail-order catalog. That was 1998. He was 17.