Dublin’s Airfield Estate announced its informative and interactive programme for the “Totally Terrific Airfield Estate Tomato Festival”, returning after a two-year hiatus. For the first time, Dublin’s favourite Urban Farm and Gardens, Airfield Estate, will play host to the two-day festival, where there’ll be no tomato shortages and plenty of fun to be had with tips aplenty from tomato growing enthusiasts and experts alike. Celebrating its 10th birthday this unique festival which champions the culture and diversity of tomatoes will have a specific focus on taste for its residence in Airfield on the weekend of August 27th & 28th 2022.
As was the intention of its founder Nicky Kyle, this festival will continue to celebrate the delicious and diverse fruit with a jaw dropping display of over 100 tomato varieties. Community involvement will be key to creating this display with over 60 tomato growers from across the country having pledged to grow tomatoes for the festival. Individuals who contribute tomatoes to the display will be automatically entered into the tomato competition with prizes awarded for several categories including the much-coveted title of “ugliest” tomato. This visually stimulating display will be accompanied by informative talks, tomato seed saving demonstrations, tomato growing tours and the all-important tomato taste test.
“The issue of global food security has never been more relevant. The current war in Ukraine is showing us just how dangerous it is to allow control of valuable global commodities to be concentrated in too few hands. The war is urgently highlighting that we can and must find alternatives to oil – but there is no alternative to food. We all need to eat! Since the 1980s I have held several events trying to interest people in preserving genetic diversity in order to ensure food security – but it wasn’t until 2012 that I felt people were becoming interested enough in the provenance of their food for it to be worth having another try. The festival has moved around since its birth in 2012 and I am thrilled to see its adoption by Airfield Estate this year” said festival founder, Nicky Kyle.
Nicky first became aware in the mid-1970s that ownership of the world’s seed supply was increasingly becoming concentrated in the control of only a small handful of powerful global multinational seed/agrochemical companies. This was leading to a loss of vital genetic diversity as they dropped Heritage varieties in favour of promoting their own patented F1 hybrid and GMO varieties. Seeds for growing such patented crops are produced each year by a complicated process of crossing undisclosed parents under specifically protected conditions and must be purchased from these seed companies annually, as it cannot be saved and replicated by farmers and gardeners. This narrowing of genetic diversity in the world’s seed supply is an extremely dangerous threat to global food security, as valuable traits like pest and disease-resistance, or potential adaptability to future unknown challenges of climate change may be lost, when long-evolved crops with varietal stability established over many decades, or sometimes even centuries, disappear from cultivation.
Whether you are a rookie gardener or a tomato grower this festival is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Totally Terrific Tomato and ultimately will help you to get to know your tomatoes better. The two-day event includes many demonstrations and scheduled talks with expert guest speakers. On Saturday, August 27th, UCD’s Dr. Emma Feeney will deliver an interactive tomato taste experience. On Sunday, August 28th there’s an interactive talk on breeding new tomato varieties by the Irish co-ordinator for the GAIA foundation Jason Horner. Jason has over 29 years of growing experience and promises to deliver an exciting and informative presentation as he has now switched his attention to seed growing and during this talk, he will tell the story of his efforts to create a new tomato variety. As with all community-based events, there will be a competition prize giving, for the ‘best in show’ or rather the ‘tastiest in show’ with over 60 national amateur tomato growers eager to be voted top of the crop.
For Colm O’Driscoll, Head Gardener at Airfield Estate The GAIA Seed Exchange trail in the UK was the initial inspiration behind the new addition to the Festival, The Tomato Taste Test as the GAIA celebrate their seeds and the stories behind them in order to connect the wider community with issues around crop genetic diversity just like the Airfield Estate Tomato Festival wishes to.
The Airfield Estate Tomato Festival flow as follows:
On both days, throughout the day:
Tomato Taste Trial, where members of the public will be asked to vote for their favourite from four cherry varieties of tomatoes (while stocks last!)
Incredible tomato displays on view and definitely a colourful sight to behold
10am Tomato Tour with An Airfield Horticulturalist will lead a group of 20 on a tomato tour of the tunnels where participants will learn all the tomato tips and tricks they will need
to grow their own.
11 am Tomato Competition Winner announcement the winners of each of the 5 competition categories will have awards placed beside the winning displays.
11.30am Tomato talk – Garden Trials – An illustrated talk on the growing trials, how they are conducted and what they are hoping to learn from them.
1pm Talk Trials – UCD’s Dr. Emma Feeney will deliver an Interactive tomato taste experience.
2.30pm Tomato Seed Saving Demo – An Airfield Horticulturalist will demonstrate how to save seed from your tomato plants.
4pm Tomato Tour – An Airfield Horticulturalist will lead a group of 20 on a tomato tour of the tunnels where participants will learn all the tips and tricks they will need to grow
their own tomatoes.
10am Tomato Tour. An Airfield Horticulturalist will lead a group of 20 on a tomato tour of the tunnels where participants will learn all the tips and tricks they will need to grow their
11.30am Garden Trials – An illustrated talk on the growing trials that are taking place in the gardens. Learn about why we conduct trials and what we are hoping to learn from them.
1pm Talk/demo with Interactive talk on Breeding new tomato varieties by Jason Horner.
2.30pm Tomato seed saving demonstrations An Airfield Horticulturalist will demonstrate how to save seed from your tomato plants.
4pm Tomato Tour. An Airfield Horticulturalist will lead a group of 20 on a tomato tour of the tunnels where participants will learn all the tomato tips and tricks they will need to grow their own.
Airfield Estate is located just off the M50 and reachable by LUAS to the Balally stop, by Bike with bike-parking onsite, by Bus routes 11,14, 14C, 44, 44B, 75, 116 and 175 and finally by Car or Coach taking the M50 to Junction 13, following the R826 for 2 kilometres to Overend Way.
Annual pass holders do not need to prebook to visit the Estate. Day tickets can also be purchased on arrival at the ticket desk for The Airfield Estate Tomato Festival, but workshops must be booked in advance where indicated. To book your day pass please click here