A Taste of Summer: N.C. A&T University Farm Hosts Tomato Taste-ival

06/27/2019 College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 26, 2019) -- What could be better to celebrate in summer than the tomato? The classic taste of a vine-ripened, glossy red ’mater can’t be topped – unless it’s by a big yellow one with dimpled sides…or an heirloom variety that’s green with red streaks…or a deep purple variety that touts its sweetness.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s largest classroom and laboratory, the University Farm, will open its doors to the public for an event that’s part festival, part tomato tasting, part community education event – all a celebration of bread and mayo’s best friend.

The inaugural Tomato Taste-ival will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 20, at the University Farm, 3136 McConnell Road. Featured events will include a recipe contest, educational workshops, kid-friendly activities, farm tours and the event’s centerpiece, a tasting of 20 heirloom varieties of tomato, all grown at the University Farm.

The event is free; registration is requested. Attendees can register online.

“There’s something for backyard gardeners, foodies and community members who just want to see the farm,” said Alyssa McKim, community garden coordinator for N.C. A&T’s Cooperative Extension and the festival’s organizer. “Everyone’s welcome.”

The heirloom tomatoes aren’t what shoppers can typically find at the grocery store. Taste-ival goers can sample such varieties as German Johnson, a deep red heirloom grown primarily in this area; SunGold, an orange cherry tomato known for its sweetness; or Black Beauty, a smaller tomato with a striking, deep purple color.

“There really is a difference in taste, in texture and in juiciness,” McKim said. “You don’t get that kind of variety in the grocery store.”

Attendees who like to cook can also sign up to participate in a recipe contest, open to 10 tomato-fancy-ing chefs. Registration is required for the contest and also is available online.

Kids can ride a bike that powers a blender, make salsa and enjoy activities such as face painting.

Workshops about planting techniques and pest management, as well as information about container gardening and nutrition, will also be available.

But be aware – one thing that won’t be available is plastic water bottles. At this zero-waste event, attendees are encouraged to bring their own.

“July is National Plastic-Free month, and with more attention being paid to the plastic crisis, we wanted to highlight the importance of being responsible,” McKim said.

All the plastic at the event is decomposable. Materials such as plates or cups can be composted on site; volunteers will be on hand to help attendees pitch in correctly.