I’m a big fan of old varieties of plants and I’m Patuxent writer Bob Allen’s biggest fan – although I remain jealous over the huge novella word limits he is given by our editor, but that is the stuff of another column. On second thought, maybe not.
A Tomato Convocation in Westminster
Heirlooms are ripe for celebration By Bob Allen firstname.lastname@example.org
The mouthwatering magic and savory mystique of heirloom tomatoes was celebrated in Carroll County last week at a lively, tomato-inspired confabulation of food, fun and horticultural education and tomato lore.
If there had been a gaudy neon marquee advertising the Carroll County Master Gardeners' annual Heirloom Tomato Festival, it might have flashed:
ALL THE TIME!"
Held at the Saturday, Aug. 16, Carroll County Farmers Market, the sixth annual festival was a spirited gathering of tomatoes and the people who love them, grow them, cook with them, talk about them and celebrate their merits.
But these were not just any tomatoes on parade.
In fact, the mere mention of store-bought hybrids (often distinguished by bland taste, pallid complexion and cardboard-like pulpiness) was met by good-natured disdain.
To most master gardeners, the only kind of tomato worthy of salt, vinegar, garlic, basil, olive oil and salad dressing is a genuine, home-grown heirloom.
Indeed, heirlooms are the true hall of famers of the tomato world.
An heirloom is a pure-bred tomato that has been established and kept true to its specific variety, with its gene pool unsullied by hybridization for least 50 years.
The master gardeners on hand at the Heirloom Tomato Festival provided fresh, juicy samples of the colorful-looking and even more colorfully named array of heirlooms from their back yard and side lot tomato patches -- Goliaths, Bullhearts, Hillbillies, Blackrims, Siberians, German Greens, German Johnsons, Aunt Rubies, Belgian Pinks, Brandywines, Polish Linguisas and a host of others.
All proceeds went to a special agriculture education scholarship fund set up by Carroll County Master Gardeners.
Maryanne Turner, president of Carroll County Master Gardeners, the local chapter of the state-wide volunteer training program coordinated by the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, was doling out bite-sized samples of her green tomato pie, which were gobbled nearly as quickly as she could scoop them into little paper cups and put them on the counter.
For more on the Master Gardeners program, or to learn how to get a copy of the tomato recipe booklet, call Steve Allgeier at the Carroll County Extension Office at 410-386-2760.
You can read the rest of Mr. Allen’s mouthwatering novella, complete with recipes, here: A Tomato Convocation in Westminster
20080824 A Tomato Convocation in Westminster By Bob Allen