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edible Monterey Bay Summer 2016

www.ediblemontereybay.com 13 vor between a homegrown tomato and a store-bought tomato is so significant,” she adds. e World Tomato Society is set to blossom into a virtual online community packed with tutorials and videos on growing and cooking with tomatoes, sustainable living, health research and an encyclopedic catalog of all known tomato varieties. Award-winning Monterey graphic designer Jerry Takigawa has been tapped to create the new WTS website. Ibsen is charged with fleshing out and expanding the catalog, which currently includes 5,800 tomato varieties with color photos and is being converted into a database that allows users to search for the exact color, shape, size and growing profile they want. Most content is available only to members of the World Tomato Society, but membership is free with registration. “It’s painstaking work, but I enjoy it all,” says Ibsen. “I’m in touch with almost all the international seed companies and with individual families who have been holding on to their heirloom seeds for generations and want to share them with the world. “I love it because I’m always learning about plant history, family history and cultural history. e stories are just as important as the fruit itself,” he adds. And bringing back Ibsen’s TomatoFest is certainly in the cards. “It was magical, it was awesome,” recalls Sandberg. “People really want him to bring it back. Now, through the WTS he’ll have help doing it.” e collaborators are aiming to revive TomatoFest in 2017 and the first reiteration will likely take place in Los Gatos, where the WTS headquarters has been set up in Pastorino’s office building. Later, they hope to establish tomato festivals in cities around the world. Back at Love Apple Farms, Sandberg is overseeing the research arm of the society, pursuing such projects as debunking myths about tomato gimmicks that she says do not work, like the topsy-turvy tomato plant, the tomato tree and ketchup and fries—a tomato-potato plant combo. She will also conduct tomato trials and work on starting a seed bank to preserve heirloom varieties. Michael is forging a variety of partnerships to gain financial stability and credibility. Among the first partners are Enza Zaden, the Dutch seed company with U.S. headquarters in Salinas, the Tomato Foundation of Barcelona, Spain and the Demeter Association for biodynamic certification. “Our short-term objective is to let people know we’re here, build a membership, add content and build up the World Tomato Society brand,” he says. “But the ultimate goal is to create a credible voice so that we can really advance the cause of sustainable living. ere are lots of ways to go with this, but it all starts with the tomato.” Deborah Luhrman is deputy editor of Edible Monterey Bay and editor of our weekly newsletter. A lifelong journalist, she has reported from around the globe, but now prefers covering our flourishing local food scene and growing her own tomatoes in the Santa Cruz Mountains. www.worldtomatosociety.com


edible Monterey Bay Summer 2016
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