It's the time of year when many home gardeners are enjoying harvesting and eating plenty of varieties of tomatoes. This Sunday Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will host the 8th annual "Red, Ripe, and Roasted Tomato and Garlic Festival" to celebrate two of this year’s most bountiful crops. The event will focus on fresh, local produce and its culinary possibilities.
Jordyn Melino, Exhibit Director at Phipps, described the festival as perfect for the city of Pittsburgh, given its rich local farms and history of food.
“It’s really just to celebrate tomatoes and garlic as well as the rest of the bounty of summer. Something that’s fresh, something that’s local, something that will really draw people, you know, food is something that people always gather around for, so really this is just a celebration of the bounty of summer,” Melino said.
This year’s activities include a tomato contest for the ugliest, smallest, or largest ripe tomatoes, garlic bulb planting, face painting for kids, and a plant clinic where Phipps Master Gardeners will be available all day to answer questions about gardening.
Guests can visit a roasting station that will feature Phipps-grown garlic. A farmers’ market will offer for sale organic and certified naturally grown produce from regional farms.
Melino said Doug Oster of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will also be in attendance. “We hold chef demonstrations in the outdoor gardens, so he’ll be there supporting the event and selling his book, Tomato Garlic Basil, and also signing the book as well,” Melino said. Trina Clickner, author of “A Miscellany of Garlic”, will also be giving a guest presentation.
Melino said all proceeds will benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, a partnership that has been ongoing in the eight-year history of the festival.
“The event is free and open to the public, but if anybody brings a bag of fresh produce to donate to the Food Bank, they get into the Conservatory for free that day,” Melino said. More than 2,500 pounds of food was collected to help the Food Bank during last summer’s event.
Further information can be found on the Phipps Conservatory website.