Uncle Paul’s Garden has more than 100 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and many will be on display at the 5th annual Heirloom Tomato Festival coming up Saturday.
They grow red, white, yellow, purple, black and any other color a tomato can be. There are even a few striped ones. Uncle Paul’s Garden also sells compost, raised beds and blocks. This coming spring, they’ll begin selling plant starts, too.
This year, Uncle Paul’s Garden has 20 new varieties of tomatoes including Tidwell German, Anna Russian, Brandywine Red and Illini Gold.
Paul Miller, owner of Uncle Paul’s Garden, has also taken up some new crops this year, although tomatoes have been the staple product for a few years now.
“We’ve got more of the full range this year over last year,” Miller explained.
Miller raises tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, herbs, spinach, beets and now cotton, long beans, blackberries, kale, six different kinds of mint tea, cherries, onions and cardoon in raised beds, using compost and adding extra minerals to it, in a process called “beyond organic.”
As opposed to the organic market, which thrives mainly on its opposition to chemically enhanced products, “beyond organic” encourages use of the ground’s natural nutrients and allows for additional nutrients to be added, but naturally, rather than chemically.
“We follow all of the organic rules, but we will never certify,” he said. “Just because it’s certified doesn’t mean it’s good. It’s in how it’s raised.”
This year’s crop at Uncle Paul’s Garden is expected to be about the same as last year’s, with poor pollination during the early months but a better rainy season.
As for the festival, Miller invites anyone who wants to learn or shares his passion to attend.
“We just get a bunch of people out here who love tomatoes,” he said.
The tomatoes are the main event, but there will be more to see, hear, eat and drink at the festival.
Fresh mint tea, fried green tomatoes, over 100 varieties of tomatoes to taste-test and much of what is available to buy is also available to test.
Visitors can also pick their own tomatoes from the vine for a discounted price during the festival.
Master gardener Jim Carpenter of Syracuse will speak at the event from noon to 1 p.m. He’ll lead a discussion on heirloom tomatoes and GMO products for those in attendance.
Miller hopes the event will be a fun yet informative day. Visit the festival to taste aristole tomatoes, pear tomatoes, orange banana tomatoes, mini orange tomatoes, Hawaiian pineapple tomatoes, reif red heart, ox heart and a host of other interesting and aptly named heirloom tomatoes.
“I think there’s a need for nutrient dense foods,” he said. “We’ve gotten away from it for a couple of generation and we’re not doing so well. We need to get rid of the fast food nation.”
Uncle Paul’s Garden Heirloom Tomato Festival begins at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 31. The speaker presentation will run from noon to 1 p.m. and the festival ends at 3 p.m.
For more information, call the garden at 574-536-7739.
Uncle Paul’s Garden is located at 404 Olive St., Goshen.