Another thing. It is a much better year for tomatoes than last year - for me, anyway - and hopefully for many of you. I have no idea what the tomato variety/selection situation will be.....each year we fret, each year things work out. At least I can make a significant contribution this year! I am bringing over 60 varieties - many of them will be quite interesting to taste.
So - how did this event come about? Well, Sue and I have been selling tomato seedlings for 14 years or so - a few years into it, in a chat with my tomato buddy and Tpalooza co-founder Lee, we realized that it would be helpful for my customers to have a chance to taste those varieties that they didn't purchase or were otherwise unfamiliar with. We started very informally, a handful of us meeting on a Saturday at Umstead Park on a hot muggy summer day. It was great fun - the people who attended were wonderful and we had a great time.....sometimes food was brought, sometimes hot peppers and seeds to share.
Well, the event spread by word of mouth, or by my website - whatever, it started getting a bit bigger. We held a few at our friends Jimmy and Fred's farm in Efland - the first of which was one of our best events ever, just a perfect day...we started getting Tomato kooks from far and wide. The second year in Efland we had a very special attendee - Patrina, from Australia, my Dwarf tomato project co-leader - as well as my UK friend Gary and Michigan friend Jeff.
So here we are - bigger (and hopefully better!) than ever. Another tomato pal Lori took on the event organization and with her cast of assistants, it now runs like clock work. Lee and I actually get a chance to show up with our tomatoes, say a few words, and taste the goodies that everyone brings! The emergence of the Dwarf tomato breeding project adds a complexity to the event - the seeds can't be shared or taken, because they are works in progress. But - this year in particular, I hope - we can share our excitement in what the project accomplished so far - as well as some exciting things to come. We now know that we succeeded in creating big, colorful, great tasting tomatoes on plants that are much easier to manage. I will have a nice selection to taste - and I know others in the project will as well.
We will get there, we will not start on time - we never do, but once everything is set, we will travel the tables of colorful fruit, dig in wherever each of us is most tempted, and start our travel through the colors, sizes, shapes and flavors. It is exhausting, it is exhilarating, it is amazing, it is surprising. We will spar - discuss and argue about whether a variety is correct, crossed, showing well or showing poorly. It is all good fun.....we will all need antacid when it is done!
These are really, really great times to be a tomato aficionado! I can't wait! See you on Saturday!