Slow Food Columbia is one of 200+ Slow Food USA chapters, located in Columbia, South Carolina. Our mission is to support the movement behind GOOD, CLEAN and FAIR foodways in the Midlands and beyond. Our convivium hosts workshops, potlucks and other events throughout the year to celebrate local + seasonal flavors; to showcase the culinary talents of our region's chefs, farmers, + artisan producers; to strengthen connections between members of our local food community; and to educate the public about the importance of knowing where your food comes from.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival grows 150% in 2012

Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival Sees 150% Increase in 2012 Attendance;
Tomato Contest Winners Announced

Approximately 3,000 guests confirmed that ‘maters really do matter at the 3rd Annual Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival, presented by Slow Food Columbia and Sustainable Midlands on July 15, 2012 at City Roots urban farm in Columbia, South Carolina.

Showing a 150% increase in attendance from the 2011 festival, the 2012 crowd stretched their legs along Airport Blvd., which was closed for the evening and transformed into an alfresco banquet hall with long, festive tables down the middle of the road. 

Image: Molly Harrell 2012

Over 700 pounds of heirloom tomatoes from Shawn Thackeray’s farm on Wadmalaw Island, SC were served at a complimentary Heirloom Tomato Taste Test, where attendees could compare bites of conventionally grown tomatoes next to luscious, flavorful varieties like Red and Yellow Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, German Striper, Homestead, Yellow Teardrop and more. 

Another 400 pounds of commercially grown tomatoes were turned into free range chicken feed and compost after guests lobbed them skyward at Chuck the Commercial Tomato Skee-Ball or chomped the red fruits underwater at one of two Tomato Bobbing stations. 

Image: Jonathan Sharpe 2012

Kids and adults of all ages enjoyed live music from The Plowboys, Jahson and the Natty Vibez, Buck Stanley, and Prettier Than Matt, with DJ sets by Scott Padgett, booked by Steve Gibson of House of Cards Entertainment and mixed by Jay Matheson of The Jam Room Recording Studio. 

Kids enjoyed a spirited tomato bobbing contest at the Bud Stage with color commentary by Tom Hall of Mardi Gras Columbia. Guests browsed the 3-D city guide to the Midlands sustainable food scene in the Faces of Local Food tent, self-toured City Roots urban sustainable farm; and talked with reps from the Carolina Farm Stewards Association, in town from Pittsboro, NC.

At the festival, Sustainable Midlands announced the winners of the 3rd Annual Tasty Tomato Contest. Gardeners from all over the Midlands submitted 115 tomato entries in 7 categories, with a broad showing of over 60 different tomato varieties in an amazing array of shapes, sizes and colors, from popular heirlooms like “Cherokee Purple” to rare breeds like “Peche Jaune.” 
2012 Tasty Tomato Contest Winners:

Category: Best Small Tomato
1st Place: Mint Produce, variety 'Sungold'
2nd Place: Andrew Warthen, variety  'Sweet One Hundred'

Category: Best Big Red Tomato
1st Place: Benji Hicks, variety 'Mortgage Lifter'
2ndPlace: Catherine Sale, variety 'Red Delicious'

Category: Best Big Purple Tomato
1st Place: Gayle Boyer, variety 'Cherokee Purple'
2ndPlace: Brian and Heather Long (Shady Grove Farm), variety 'Cherokee Purple'

Category: Best Tomato Grown by a Child
1st Place: Levi Glass, variety 'Sungold'
2ndPlace: Eliza Davis, variety 'Cherry Zebra'

Category: Best Big Yellow Tomato
1st Mint Produce, variety 'Peche Jaune'
2nd Zac Willoughby, variety 'Jubilee'

Category: Best Unusual Variety
1st Place: Derrick Gunter, variety 'Berkeley Tie Dye'
2nd Brian Long & Heather Lowder of Shady Grove Farm, variety 'Green Zebra'

Category: Best Tomato Grown in a Community/School or Church Garden
1st Place: Breath of Life Lutheran Church of Blythewood, variety 'Cherokee Purple'
2nd Place: USC EcoReps Community Garden 'Sweet Baby Girl' 
First place winners in all seven categories will receive a pair of tickets to the Famously Hot Chef Showdown on October 11, 2012 at the South Carolina State Fair. Second place winners in each category will receive either 5 bags of Mr. Mushroom Compost from Carolina Eastern Warehouse or Sunday Brunch from 302 Artisans. 
Image: Gennifer Carragher 2012

The team of celebrity judges deliberated at a special judging reception on Wednesday, July 11 at 701 Whaley, and winners were sealed until announced at the festival on July 15. Judges were Amanda McNulty, SC ETV’s “Making It Grow;” Andrea Mock, Anchor at WLTX TV; Jennifer McCormick, Whole Foods Columbia; Kevin Brumfield, Rosewood Market and Deli; Lee Ann Kornegay, Tomato Mom and filmmaker; Emile DeFelice, Owner of the All-Local Farmers Market & Caw Caw Creek Pastured Pork; Kristian Niemi, Chef/Owner at Rosso Trattoria Italia; Rodger Winn, Heirloom Tomato Grower; and Tim Peters, Executive Chef at Motor Supply.

Tasty treats abounded at the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival 2012, including tomato sandwiches by Rosewood Market, tomato-cucumber-anise popsicles by Chill Out Pops, and other creative dishes by Bone-In Artisan BBQ on Wheels, Pawley’s Mobile Eats, Spotted Salamander and Good Life CafĂ©.  Food vendors as well as Tomato Potluck participants were asked to include at least one sustainably produced ingredient in their offerings.

While the American Harvest Bloody Mary Bar served up signature cocktails with mix by Spotted Salamander, Liquid Assets staff poured beers like summery Widmer Citra and crisp Pinot Grigio by Fetzer earth-friendly winery. Perry’s Lemonades from the All-Local Farmers Market broke records serving fresh-squeezed lemonade on site, and an army of dedicated volunteers enjoyed hospitality provided by Whole Foods Market.  
Contest organizers at Sustainable Midlands extend thanks to Tasty Tomato Contest Sponsors Whole Foods, Richland County Soil & Water Conservation District’s Organic Richland Program and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Overall festival sponsorship was provided by the famously hot City of Columbia, SC, Whole Foods, Skirt! Magazine Columbia, Studio Taj graphic design, Budweiser of Columbia, Fetzer earth-friendly winery, American Harvest Organic Spirit, Flock and Rally, The Jam Room Recording Studio, Liquid Assets, The Southern Greenie, Rhett Talbert Graphic Design, Andrew Stinson of WAS Designs, and House of Cards Entertainment.

Image: Forrest Clonts Studio 2012

More photos of the festival are hosted the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival page on Facebook:

About Slow Food Columbia
Slow Food Columbia is the Midlands chapter of the international non-profit organization, Slow Food, whose mission is to support "Good, Clean and Fair" foodways in our local communities. Facebook:

About Sustainable Midlands
Sustainable Midlands is a non-partisan, non-profit corporation whose mission is to foster and advocate for sustainable, healthy communities in the Midlands of South Carolina by providing educational resources and facilitating communication among citizens and community leaders.


TWITTER:           @SlowFoodCola @SustainableMid #TastyTomato, #matersmatter


Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival is on!

Although online advance ticket sales have ended, we will have plenty of regular price tickets available when gates open at 5pm on Sunday, July 15, 2012. 

Come down and party with us!

Also? We got 700 lbs of heirloom tomatoes for the tasting! We'll have them for sale, as well.

They're mostly Cherokee Purples, Red and Yellow Brandywines, and German Stripers from the esteemed Shawn Thackeray's farm on Wadmalaw Island, SC.

We also got some pretty Homestead tomatoes from Sumter Organic Co-Op, plus some gorgeous little Yellow Teardrops that are hard to stop tasting, trust us.

See y'all there!

The 3rd Annual Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival 
presented by Slow Food Columbia and Sustainable Midlands 

Join Columbia’s progressive food community for a family-friendly, midsummer’s evening event with a free heirloom tomato tasting, live music, high quality food + drink vendors, tomato bobbing, tomato potluck, homegrown tomato contest, and old time festival fun!

The Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival
Sunday July 15, 2012

$10 advance until 11:55pm 7/14/12
$15 gate
$20 “Supporter” ticket & covered dish grants access to special VIP tomato potluck at 4pm.
Kids 12/under free with adult

$5 early advance discount $5 level sold out, thank you!

City Roots urban farm
1005 Airport Blvd, Columbia SC 29205
Free parking


Want to volunteer in exchange for a free ticket?

The street will be closed in front of farm, with two festival entrances: Airport Blvd. at Jim Hamilton Blvd., and Airport Blvd. at Commerce Blvd. Accessible parking in the Aramark lot. Volunteer check-in at the Commerce Blvd entrance; VIP and band check-in at the Jim Hamilton entrance.

Bring blankets and camp chairs, and some hay bales will be available for seating.
4 to 5pm DJ Scott Padgett and between sets til 8:15
5 to 5:45pm Prettier than Matt  
6 to 6:45pm Buck Stanley 
6:45pm Announcement of Tasty Tomato Contest winners
7 to 8:00pm Jahson and the Natty Vibez
8:15 to 9:00pm Tom Hall and the Plowboys

For links to each band's website, visit House of Cards Events' Tasty Tomato Festival page:

Tomato Sandwich bar by Rosewood Market & Deli
Bone-In Artisan BBQ on Wheels food truck
Spotted Salamander Catering booth (tomato hand pies, etc.)
Pawley’s Front Porch food truck (fancy burgers, etc.)
The Good Life Cafe (raw, vegan)
Chill-Out Pops (handmade popsicles w/fresh, seasonal ingredients)
Fresh-squeezed lemonade by Perry’s Lemonades
American Harvest Bloody Mary bar with mix by Spotted Salamander Catering
Beer: Widmer Citra Summer, Widmer Hefeweizen, Magic Hat No. 9, Kona Longboard Lager
Wine: Fetzer earth-friendly wines
And more!


VIP tomato potluck ticketholders should bring an “outside-the-box” tomato dish to share, featuring at least one sustainable ingredient. Potluck tickets are $20.

EDUCATION:  Taste a variety of locally grown heirloom tomato varieties; browse the 3-D city guide to the Midlands sustainable food scene in the Faces of Local Food tent; self-tour City Roots urban sustainable farm; talk with reps from the Carolina Farm Stewards Association; and more.

CRAFTS/VENDORS: Yandle's Market, Mr. B's Sustainable Glass Works, Di Prato's Pimento Cheese, Phoenix Fire Studios, Lil' Blue House, Allison Tierney Studios, Kreative Krafts, Bows Cote, Hand of Artemis, The SC State Fair, Tie One On, Tluca Treasures, Cozie Cool, Paparazzi Jewelry and Accessories

Come revel in the insanely superior taste of fat, juicy tomatoes bred for flavor, not long-distance shipping. Why? Cause ‘maters matter! 

@SlowFoodCola @SustainableMid #matersmatter #tastytomato


Thank you to our Tasty Tomato Contest Judges: Andrea Mock, WLTX; Amanda McNulty, ETV's "Making It Grow;" Jenks Farmer, Plantsman; Jennifer McCormick, Whole Foods; Lee Ann Kornegay, Filmmaker;  Emile DeFelice, Owner, All-Local Farmers Market; Kristian Niemi, Chef/Owner Rosso Trattoria; Rodger Winn, Heirloom Tomato Grower; Kevin Blumfield, Rosewood Market; Tim Peters, Executive Chef, Motor Supply.

Celebrating Good, Clean and Fair foodways in the Midlands and beyond!

Interested in sponsorship? Contact Vanessa Driscoll at or 828.301.2328. Vanessa Driscoll is the Logistics Director and Sponsor Relations Director for the 2012 festival.

Dogs are welcome at the festival if they are leashed and do not have a history of aggression in public. We love to party with our furry friends!


Thank you to The City of Columbia, SC for its continued support of our mission: to highlight the biodiversity of foods, and to celebrate the restaurants, chefs, farmers, markets, backyard gardeners, green community leaders and citizens who make Columbia, SC a truly, madly, deeply, and famously HOT destination for all things sustainable and delicious.

Thank you to Whole Foods Market, Columbia, for major support!

Thank you to Skirt! Columbia Magazine for sponsoring!

Thank you to Taj Shiben of Studio Taj for partial sponsorship of our 2012 graphic design campaign!

Thank you to the SC USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (Facebook:, Organic Richland, and the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District for sponsoring the Sustainable Midlands "Faces of Local Food" education tent at the festival!  

Thank you to American Harvest Organic Spirit for sponsoring our Bloody Mary bar! We're also excited that Spotted Salamander Catering, one of the SC's most sustainable caterers, is making their famous Bloody Mary mix for the festival!

Thank you to the sustainable winery, Fetzer, for sponsoring our wine offerings!

Thank you to the team at Bud Columbia for sponsoring the stage!

Thank you to Flock and Rally for partial sponsorship of PR, marketing and social media services!

Thank you to Steve Gibson of House of Cards Entertainment for serving as our Entertainment Director for the festival! Check out the cool bands lined up for us by Steve Gibson:

Thank you to Jay Matheson of The Jam Room Recording Studio and the Jam Room Music Festival (October 13, 2012) for doing our audio logistics for the festival!

Thank you to Liquid Assets for providing our beverage service!

Thank you to the Free Times for helping us spread the word! 

Thank you to The Copy Shop and Scene SC for supporting the festival!

Thank you to Jasper Magazine for spreading the word in the arts community!

Thank you to Midlands Biz for getting the festival in front of the business community!

Thank you to our Official Festival Photographers for supporting our mission:

Jonathan Sharpe Photography
Forrest Clonts Studio
Thomas Hammond Photography
Molly Harrell Photography
Karla Turner Photography

Thank you to Rhett Talbert for helping spread the word and for designing some of our cool tomato potluck event signage!

Thank you to our sustainable chef sponsors for supporting the Tasty Tomato Contest and our VIP tomato potluck! These restaurants, caterers and chefs make a point of buying from local, sustainable farms, and we appreciate it!

Spotted Salamander Catering
Motor Supply Co. Bistro
Baan Sawan
Rosso Trattoria
Rosewood Market and Deli
Mr. Friendly's New Southern Cafe

Without community support, great happenings like The Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival just aren't possible. Thank you to everyone who has a hand in this thing! We truly appreciate it.