Tasty Tomato Fest celebrates end of summer
Produce grower Deep Rooted, located in Westby, WI, held their 4th Annual Tasty Tomato Festival last Saturday, with the public having the opportunity to taste over 40 varieties of tomatoes.
Tiffany Cade and Jimmy Fackert, owners of Deep Rooted, are in their 6th season of growing tomatoes, all of which are grown in bags. “The reason we do that is because when we started in 2012, the greenhouses were all gravel.” Fackert said. The tomato plants are started at the end of January, moved to the greenhouse in March, and grown up to the beginning of November.
While waiting for the tomatoes to mature, one of the greenhouses is used to grow an assortment of annual and perennial flowers in addition to seedlings and hanging baskets. “It makes the greenhouse usable for the season” Cade said.
Deep Rooted’s tomato vines grow to between 20 and 30 feet long, “By the end of the year, we usually have enough tomato vines to go to the end of Viroqua and back.” Fackert said.
Fackert led tours of their greenhouses, while sharing how the greenhouses were put together and operated. He said “Our tomatoes ripen while still on the vine while other farms cut the vine and then they ripen later. That is why they don’t taste as good because sugars are still pumping to the tomato.”
With Deep Rooted showcasing their produce, they also felt that it is important to showcase and celebrate other local businesses.
Beverages, produce, and merchandise was available from local vendors: Cassell Hollow Farms, Maple Valley Cooperative, Sky Moon Imports, Whispering Stars Farm, Henna by Kumari, Magic Surprise Face Painting, Eagle Eye Photography, and reusable cotton bags by Julie Tomaro.
The festival included kids’ activities located throughout the grounds, and a Preservation Workshop held by the Driftless Folk School.
Another crowd favorite was the taco bar, featuring locally grown items and salsas prepared through local restaurants.
With live music a staple of any Wisconsin gathering, the Tasty Tomato Fest boasted a lineup that included: Fran Felton, Jim Fuller, Jay Hoffman, Tim Eddy & Ralph Knudson aka/Old Goat Rodeo, The Chicories, Stanton West, Jamie Waggoner, and Merry Weathers.
Deep Rooted distributes their produce within a 60-mile radius of their organic farm’s three greenhouses of tomatoes and one with peppers. Cade said, “It’s amazing how we’ve already sold 20,000 lbs. all to communities around us.” Their farm currently has 3,000 tomato plants, that includes about 40 different varieties.
Deep Rooted’s produce is available at: Driftless Meats and More in Westby, Viroqua Farmers Market, Viroqua Food Co-Op, People’s Food Co-op in La Crosse, Cameron Park Market in La Crosse, Festival Foods’ Onalaska location, and Organic Valley’s retail store in Cashton.
When you buy Deep Rooted’s tomatoes in store, Fackert noted they are harvested within two to three days, usually less.
The Charmant, The Mint, The Root Note, The Bodega restaurants in LaCrosse, The Old Oak Inn in Soldiers Grove, and Driftless Café in Viroqua, all use Deep Rooted’s tomatoes.
For more information on Deep Rooted and for future workshops held there, visit https://www.deeprootedorganics.com/