trini judith

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The battle of the microclimates. All around the Bay hundreds of thousands of tomato seedlings are going into the ground: Week One of Tomato Watch 2009. Here at the Oliveto Community Journal we’ll be watching their progress, from the coast to the inland valleys, north to south.  Tomato cam?!?!? Not exactly—we hope it will be better, richer. We’ll track a wealth of tomato varieties as they bud, grow and ripen to perfection, following them to market and to our tables.

To kick off TOMATO WATCH 2009, we start an hour and a half north of Oakland in the Capay Valley, visiting Trini Campbell of Riverdog Farm and Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm (#9 and #15 on the “In Place” farmer’s map.)

Every year we schedule our annual Tomato Dinner (Aug. 26-29 this year) to correspond with when we think the fullest range of tomatoes will be at their peak. But that date is always only a guess. In fact, every year, every area and every variety is different. This year, we thought we’d try to discover why and how that comes about. Here is some of what we’ll be looking at:

  • We’ll follow this season of tomatoes as they grow, noting what is ripe and when.
  • The Oliveto chefs’ tomato tasting will rate each variety from each farm for acidity, sweetness, and specific attributes—designating each its role within the annual tomato dinner menu to best bring out those attributes.
  • We’ll examine the effects of different farming methods: water timing, dry-farming, cover crops, fertilizers, and rotation.
  • We’ll hear how our farmers are dealing with current water shortages.
  • And we’ll meet some farmers.

You can monitor tomato progress from:

  • Journal Contents – Tomato Watch
  • Farmer’s map (Community in Place) farm balloons
  • Tomato Watch Timeline (Community in Time)