Hundreds of Tomato Lovers Flock to 4th 'Tomadah Paradah'
Largest Tomadah Is 3,595-Pound Behemoth
August 20, 2013
Tomato lovers young and old enjoyed viewing, touching and tasting some 230 varieties at the fourth annual Tomadah Paradah, including 90-year-old Velma Hillard and her nine-year-old grandson, Coen Besser, both of whom are from Wilmington.
They came in all shapes, sizes, colors, tastes and textures with names like Black Prince, Lemon Bug, Linda, Marglobe, Charger, Cherokee Purple, Caspian Pink, Black Truffle and Box Car Willie.
Tomatoes — southwest Ohio’s favorite summer fruit — took center stage Saturday (Aug. 17) as hundreds flocked to Wilmington College’s academic farm for the fourth annual Tomadah Paradah sponsored by WC’s Agriculture Department and Swindler & Sons Florists.
Some 230 varieties of tomatoes were on display to view, touch, smell and taste and, if visitors didn’t get their fill of tomatoes, they could pick their own to take home from the rows and rows of the fruit.
Phil Swindler, who with WC’s Monte Anderson, professor of agriculture, founded the Tomadah Paradah in 2010, was thrilled to see scores of tomato lovers at the event.
“There’s a real genuine interest in tomatoes. I joke that people are stupidly passionate about tomatoes — they all have their favorites,” he said, noting that the 230 varieties featured at the Tomadah Paradah barely scratched the surface of the 10,000 known varieties of tomatoes.
“It’s the number one grown backyard fruit in the United States,” he added. “They are easy to grow and everybody can grow them. People feel good about tomatoes because they’ve had success with them in their backyard gardens.”
Before staging the first event four years ago, Swindler was confident a parade of tomatoes would become a popular summer attraction in Clinton County.
“I knew people would have an interest in this — it was one of those things, if you build it they will come.”
(LEFT) Guests walk through the tomato groves.
Those attending the Tomadah Paradah also had an opportunity to see the Agriculture Department’s new hi-tunnel greenhouse, irrigation system and a rainwater collection structure, the latter of which yields 2,200 gallons of water for every inch it rains on the barn roof. The water is pumped to a hydrant in the greenhouse and available to irrigate the nearby vegetable crops.
Also, several competitions were featured.
Swindler & Sons provided prizes for the largest tomato, a 3.595-pound behemoth Super Steak submitted by Carol Templin, as well as for best tasting tomato and cherry tomato. Adam Popson’s Mr. Stripey won best tasting tomato while Allison Black won best tasting cherry for her Patio variety.
Black was one of the College agriculture students that tended the 230 varieties throughout the summer. The senior agri-business major worked with several local restaurants that used fresh tomatoes in their food preparation, in addition to doing everything from planting, staking, weeding, watering and harvesting the fruit, much of which has been donated to local food pantries.
“It was a lot of work this summer but it was worth it having a night like this with so many people here,” Black said.
Ironically, in spite of spending the past three months surrounded by tomatoes, she likes everything about them — except their taste.
“I don't like eating tomatoes at all.”
Ty Snarr won the Tomadah Paradah 5K Run/Walk with Tricia Steffen placing second and being the first female to cross the finish line. Some 22 runners and walkers took to the course that started (and ended) at the tomato fields at the College farm, and traveled through the 4-C Bicentennial Trail, the Prairie in Progress, WC’s Hazard Arboretum and Southeast Neighborhood Park.