Celebrate farmers at the first Tomato Festival on July 18

Stop by Stone Hollow Farmstead on July 18 for the first edition of the Tomato Festival, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Following the festival, a dinner prepared from locally-sourced ingredients will be served on the farm table, pictured here. (Contributed)

Stop by Stone Hollow Farmstead on July 18 for the first edition of the Tomato Festival, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Following the festival, a dinner prepared from locally-sourced ingredients will be served on the farm table, pictured here. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HARPERSVILLE—July is tomato season in Alabama, and Stone Hollow Farmstead is celebrating all things tomato with the first ever Tomato Festival on July 18.

“In July, there’s not much better than a fresh picked tomato,” Bree Garrett, Stone Hollow Farmstead wellness educator and program director, said.

The festival will kick off at 1 p.m. at Stone Hollow Farmstead, with live music, farm tours and samplings of “all sorts of different (tomato) foods from different local chefs and farmers,” Garrett said.

There will be plenty of fun for children as well, from feeding the farm’s baby goats, to face painting and learning to make butter.

“It’ll be a festival atmosphere,” Garrett said of the family event.

Several special guests will also be on hand to lead activities and presentations throughout the festival.

At 2 p.m., Chris Bennett, foraging expert an author of “Foraging the Southeast: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Angelica to Wild Plums,” will lead a foraging walk through the farm.

At 3 p.m., author of “Bourbon and Bacon” cookbook, Morgan Murphy will hold a presentation and book signing.

Tomato breeder Tom Wagner will stop by the festival at 4 p.m. with 30 varieties of heirloom tomatoes for festivalgoers to taste.

Although tomatoes highlight the Tomato Festival, the event also aims to bring attention to local farmers. The festival was inspired by the variety of fresh, local produce found at the Pepper Place Farmers Market in downtown Birmingham.

“We’re really inspired by the farmers,” Garrett said. “We noticed all the farmers bring something different to the table.”

All of the farmers featured at Pepper Place are invited to take part in the Tomato Festival and share information about their farms and crops, Garrett said.

Although the festival will end at 5 p.m., the fun won’t. Cocktails, live music and dinner will follow at 6 p.m. Dinner will be prepared by David Bancroft, owner and chef at Acre in Auburn. The meal will feature produce from 10 local farmers and will be served at Stone Hollow Farmstead’s farm table.

Admittance to the Tomato Festival costs $5 per child and $20 per adult. Tickets for the dinner cost $110 per adult and include admittance to the Tomato Festival.

Proceeds from the Tomato Festival will be used to create a fund for farmers in need.

“Farmers don’t really make a lot of money out of their hard work,” Garrett said. “They totally do it out of love for having their hands in the dirt and seeing something grow out of what they planted.”

For more information about the Tomato Festival, visit Alabamatomatofestival.com.