Originally starting as a small, nearly ad hoc, local event for my tomato seedling customers to pool some of their harvests so we could see and taste and assess varieties that people weren't familiar with, it has grown into a larger event that demands more organization....and more tomatoes. The volunteer pool has diminished, the tomato supply sources have diminished. The majority of the varieties sampled last year came from my own garden, which puts the event far too much at risk of my own harvest timing and abundance. The organization of the growing event was nearly overwhelming for the main organizer.
Those of us who represent the energy and organization behind the event are grappling with those realities - and that leads to a few options for this year. We could go much smaller and set the date closer to when we know we will have tomatoes. We could return to Efland (an offering by our friends) and go smaller there, making it more about getting together and having less certainty about the tomato supply. We've had offerings from a Farmers Market and a Park, but that doesn't answer the key questions of organization resource and tomato supply. And, we could take this year off - think back on 10 wonderful events and spend the year thinking about if and what the event should be going forward.
If Tomatopalooza number 11 does occur, the most likely dates would be either Saturday July 20 or Saturday July 27. It could happen in Efland, it could happen closer to Raleigh, or may not happen at all. Until we solve the problem of reliable tomato supply, a main organizer (no small amount of work), and a reliable and sizeable group of volunteers, we won't be able to do what we've done the past 4 or 5 years, when it has gotten a bit beyond us in size.
My personal preference is that we take a year off to think carefully about if - and if so, what - it should be, and how it can be achieved, going forward. I am deep into writing my book and will have little time and far fewer tomatoes to donate to the event.
I'd love to hear what you think about this - please send any comments to my email, email@example.com