It's all about tomatoes… Images from Sydney's third annual tomato festival

IT'S ALL ABOUT TOMATOES… the rainy morning had cleared by midday and Sydney people took advantage of what turned out to be a hot, humid and sticky February summer day to make their way to the third annual Tomato Festival Sydney in The Royal Botanic Garden.

There, close to the waters of Sydney Harbour at Farm Cove, they viewed and tasted a huge range of tomatoes and other plants of the Solanaceae family such as potato and chilli. There were demonstrations of preserving, bottling, bushfoods and more, food made with tomato recipes ready to eat and deckchairs and tables in the shade of a big tree where you could escape the day's sweaty heat and cool down, chilled beer in hand.

Here's where it started…

Farm Cove is an appropriate location for the tomato festival because it was where farming started in Australia with the arrival of the First Fleet of convicts and their guards in 1788. But they were not the first to extract a harvest from that shore. For perhaps 35,000 years before their sailing vessels anchored in what would become Sydney Harbour, Australian Aboriginals had harvested fish and shellfish from the waters, vegetable and animal foods from the immediate hinterland.

Farming would not last at Farm Cove. Not only were the European farming methods they brought inappropriate to local climate and conditions, the sandy soil of the Cove lacked plant nutrients. Not long after the first attempt at farming, the settlers packed up and took farming to the better clay soils of what is now western Sydney. Now, only the name remains by the Harbour's rippling waters.

Tomatoes, chilli, potatoes, eggplant, capsicum, cape gooseberry, pepino are all members of Solanaceae plant family.

Following are my images from the February 2016 Tomato Festival Sydney…

The tomato mandala attracted a lot of attention. The accompanying competition asked people to guesstimate the number of tomatoes.
Big line-ups for food required patience during which appetites increased so that the food was eventually eaten with gusto..

Look, sure… but taste too…

You had to join the far end of a very long line to get to the tomato tasting.
So many tomatoes to taste.

The agricultural biodiversIty of the humble tomatO is quite amazing…

Colour, pattern, shape, size, texture, taste… the characteristics of the range of the tomatoes on display amply demonstrated the diversity of this most useful of crops.

The diversity of our tomatoes not only gives the cooks among us a wealth of flavours to work with, it is also a part of the agricultural biodiversity that sustains humanity. In doing this, agricultural biodiversity takes on an importance equal to the biodiversity of natural ecosystems.

Roma variety tomatoes.
Grape tomatoes.

for the home kitchen hacker, there's the opportunity to eat tomatoes well into their off-season by preserving and bottling them… it's sort of like DIY chemistry in Your own KITCHEN…

tasty treats and stallholders…

From Smoke and Spice, smoke salt to taste.
Another Smoke and Spice Co delicacy — smoked garlic.
Co-owner of Cornersmith, Alex Elliott-Howery, demonstrated the culinary art/kitchen chemistry of pickling. Cornersmith is a cafe/picklery/educator in inner urban Marrickville that offers workshops in preserving.
Different potato varieties have different uses, and here's Angus with a basket of just some of the wide variety of potatoes from Highland Gourmet Potatoes. The spud farmers sell in the city at the Saturday morning Eveleigh Farmers' Market.
Need seeds for tomatoes? There's no better place to find them than in Diggers Seeds online or print catalog, as Michelle shows us. Diggers specialises in non-hybrid, traditional or 'heritage' varieties of vegetables, herbs and fruit.
Sorbello Family Produce is a specialist tomato grower that sells in the city at the Saturday morning Eveleigh Farmers' Market.
Butter fermented and churned is the product of these two women from Pepesaya (,au).
These guys make chilli sauce that is so hot it is almost combustable.
Costa Georgiardis (left), host of ABC Gardening Australia, livecasts an interview about Pepesaya Butter Co from Tomato Festival Sydney.
The longest table, the dinner that accompanied Tomato Festival Sydney, was held adjacent to the Harbour's lapping waters.
The meal was accompanied by jazz classics.

Tomato Festival Sydney… see you there next year.

Photos and story by Russ Grayson

Created By
Russ Grayson
Photos and story by Russ Grayson —

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