It's time to taste the tomatoes at the Fall Garden Affair

Before the last tomato ripens on the vine there will be a chance for those with a discerning palate or those who simply like eating tomatoes to decide who has tastiest at the Fall Garden Affair.

Organizers expect as many at 45 different varieties of tomatoes, including heirlooms, those of different sizes and not all of them will be red.

Tomato tasting is just one part of the free event from 10 a.m to noon Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services building, 3299 Gull Road in Kalamazoo, in the Nazareth complex.

For the first time the annual event, now in its fifth year, will feature a farmers market with fresh produce, herbs and flowers.

Creative takes on the guardians of the garden are anticipated in the parade of scarecrows. 

And Jeff Fleming, a local expert on all things tomato, will share information about the abundance of tomato varieties.

There will also be face painting, an "ask a Master Gardener" booth, door prizes, and refreshments including BLT sandwiches.

Celebrity judges will select the most attractive garden basket. Entries must contain fresh items from your home or community garden, such as produce (vegetables, fruit, herbs) and flowers.

Everyone who attends the free event will get a set of tickets that they will use as they pick their favorites. Votes will be tallied to choose the winner in the various categories. Three categories of tomatoes will be judged. Votes can be case for the best small and medium tomatoes of the cherry and paste varieties, large hybrid varieties that are  meant to be sliced, and heirloom varieties of any size.

You don't have to bring tomatoes, but if you want yours to be part of the taste contest  bring approximately 20 small tomatoes, four to five large tomatoes or six to eight medium tomatoes of each variety.

Linda Whitlock, of MSU Extension, says the event is meant to be a celebration of the harvest. Conversations about planting and gardening like those that can be found at the Fall Garden Affair "pique interests and foster learning," she says.

The event is co-sponsored by Kalamazoo Master Gardener Program/MSU Extension and Kalamazoo in Bloom. Kalamazoo in Bloom is celebrating its 30th anniversary of beautifying public spaces throughout the area and has been a partner in the tomato taste off since the event began. A view of their work can be seen here

Source: Linda Whitlock,  MSU Extension