If you have not already explored Gary Ibsen’s TomatoFest site you really should. Gary’s name is almost synonymous with heirloom tomatoes and has been for almost 33 years.
The TomatoFest in Carmel, California — an event that featured an expansive tasting display of 300 heirloom tomato varieties from around the world — was founded by Gary Ibsen.
For 20 years the TomatoFest Farm brand supplied the best tasting varieties of fresh organic heirloom tomatoes to preferred restaurants and produce markets in California and other areas of the US.
In 2004 Gary Ibsen and his partner, Dagma Lacey, discontinued providing fresh heirloom tomatoes to the marketplace to focus on their organic tomato seed business: TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seed.
They currently grow more than 600 varieties of heirloom tomatoes many of them originating from family farms around the world. If there is a special story to the variety they’ll share it with you on the site.
All their tomatoes are certified organic, open-pollinated and most are heirloom varieties.
A Real Bonus – Open Pollinated Big Beef!
There are a few varieties that Gary has de-hybridized over the years. Big Beef — one of the most popular tomatoes of all times is one of them. As you may know, the original Big Beef is a Seminis/Monsanto variety. Gary spent the years necessary to dehybridize it and offers it now as an open pollinated (grows true from seed) variety that is free and clear from any Monsanto ties.
Sale Going on NOW! (2013)
Right now Gary and Dagma have 220 varieties of tomatoes on sale! The sale will last through Sunday, January 13, 2013. (It’s all new seed that was recently harvest for the 2013 season.) At $2.00 per pack of 30 seeds that a 50% saving off some of their regular prices.
Some of these varieties won’t be offered again, so take advantage of this NOW to acquire some great heirlooms. And keep in mind — tomato seed will last 3 to 5 years if stored properly. (I’ve had it last much longer than that.)
I’ve already placed and received my order. Here’s what I ordered for my 2013 growing season.
- San Marzano Redorta – which Gary states is his preferred Italian paste tomato even better tasting than San Marzano.
- Stakebreaker —I ordered this because of it’s reputation for producing extremely large yields of 2 to 3 inch round tomatoes.
- Beefsteak – Considered the original heirloom Beefsteak tomato.
- Julia Child – delicious, productive, 4 inch beefsteak fruits
- Ox Heart – from 1925; this tomato produces 1 to 2 lb fruits
- Matt’s Wild Cherry —genetically linked to the wild Mexican tomatoes. Eating them is said to be like snacking on candy. And the great appeal for me was that it appears to have some frost resistance. PERFECT for year end backups!
- Big Beef — Although I have been successful in dehybridizing my own Big Beef from years ago — I wanted to order Gary’s to see if I could tell any difference.
TomatoFest, owned by Gary Ibsen and Dagma Lacey, is really something special. If you could find more of a selection for heirlooms, I don’t know where it would be.
Explore their site, learn a lot, choose which heirlooms interest you the most, and be sure to check out the 220 varieties on sale!
It won’t be long before it’s time to start tomato seed!
Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient — and it’s a lot healthier
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