This week is Massachusetts Farmers Market Week and the 25th Annual Massachusetts Tomato Festival and Contest. In this good natured competiton, farmers from the Commonwealth face off in categories such as field tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, heirloom varieties, weight and of course, flavor.
Despite the rain, rain and more rain that we have had this summer, and the resulting demise of many a good tomato patch, the competiton drew appromimately 70 entries, a similar number to that of last year.
According to the Offices of Energy and Environmental Affairs, more than 532 farms in the Bay State produce 6.2 million pounds of tomatoes a year on 575 acres of farmland. For a self-confessed tomato-aholic like myself, this is splendid news. The market value of this crop is estimate at $12.4 million, which includes the share we spend at our neighborhood farmstand and farmers market. And there is good news for Farmers Markets as well in the Commonwealth – 38 new markets were added in 2009, bringing the statewide total to 198.
Many Boston-area farmers who entered their best fruits came to the judging with their game faces on. In addition to Bob’s repeat Judgeship, the other judges comprised a distinguished panel of food writers, chefs, cookbook authors, grocers and state officials.
This is the listing of the 1st Place winners, many of whom were present to accept their trophy. All left smiling and trimphant.
Slicing Category: Macone Farm, Concord, Ma ‘Orange Blossom’ yellow variety
Cherry Category: Red Fire Farm, Granby, Ma, ”Sungold’ yellow variety
Heirloom Category: Macone Farm, Concord, Ma ‘Macone Farm ‘ heritage variety
Heaviest: Kimball Fruit Farm, Pepperell, MA ‘Big Raspberry’ variety