IOWA CITY - Spend a Sunday afternoon at the Plum Grove Historical Site, 1030 Carroll St, Iowa City. The Johnson County Master Gardeners will host the 6th annual “Taste of Heirloom Tomatoes” on Aug. 26, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Visitors will discover the superior characteristics of heirloom tomatoes - rich flavors and unique characteristics, including a stunning array of colors, shapes and sizes. Master Gardeners start seeds in the spring and nurture the plants all summer to produce fruit for the annual tasting activity. Visitors will also vote for their favorite tomatoes.
For example, Slanders, a large red variety, donated by Patrick O’Malley, ISU horticulturists and last year’s guest speaker, will be featured at the Taste. Other varieties include the Jefferson Giant, Abe Lincoln, German Lunchbox and last year’s winner in the “Best Overall Taste,” the German Red Strawberry.
JCMG Holly Hotchkiss will present a short program followed by the sampling of heirloom tomatoes, vote for your favorite, and sampling several prepared recipes for guests to try.
Taste visitors are encouraged to tour the three heirloom gardens [heritage vegetable (1995), flowers (1998), and a wildflower garden (2000)] and visit the 1840s historic home of Robert Lucas, Iowa’s first territorial governor. Cost is a $3 donation.
Through the years, Plum Grove gardens have received local, state and national recognition including the first Iowa State Service Award, National Smithsonian Garden Award and an Irving Weber Award. The historic home gardens have been a featured garden on Project GREEN Garden Tours.
Organized in 1982, Johnson County Master Gardeners is an educational volunteer program, sponsored by Iowa State University Johnson County Extension and Outreach. JCMG provides current, research-based, home horticulture information and education to the citizens of Iowa through programs and projects. Master Gardeners receive horticulture training, and volunteer to promote a mission of education and service. In 2017, Johnson County Master Gardeners completed 7,046 hours of service and more than 1,405 training hours.
The program is open to anyone 18 or older with an interest in gardening and a willingness to use their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to make a positive impact on their local community. Volunteers receive more than 40 hours of ISU-certified training by ISU research specialists and local experts. Upon successful completion of curriculum training, trainees are required to provide 40 community service hours to become a certified ISU Master Gardener. Each year, Master Gardeners must complete volunteer service and educational training to maintain certification.