Gary Ibsen's TomatoFest - The Tomato Lover's Paradise

A Celebration of Heirloom Tomato Varieties from Around the World


Press Release

Announcing "Top 10" Heirloom Tomatoes for 2013

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Gary Ibsen
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Announcing "Top 10" Heirloom Tomatoes for 2013
"Black" Tomatoes Still Reign with the Best of the Reds and Pinks
Bi-Colored and Cherry Tomatoes Still Growing In Popularity

Little River, Calif. - November 13, 2012 - Gary Ibsen, Founder of TomatoFest® Heirloom Tomato Seeds, author of The Great Tomato Book, and grower of 600 varieties of certified organic, heirloom tomatoes in California, announced the "Top 10" list of favorite heirloom tomatoes going into 2013:

Black Cherry (purple/black)
Brandywine, Sudduth Strain (pink beefsteak)
Chocolate Stripes (red/green striped)
Blondkopfchen (yellow cherry)
Black From Tula (purple/black beefsteak)
Neves Azorean Red (red beefsteak)
Amana Orange (orange beefsteak)
Azoychka (yellow/orange beefsteak)
Caspian Pink (pink beefsteak)
Lillian's Yellow Heirloom (yellow beefsteak)

The "Top Ten" heirloom tomatoes were selected from the top 20 most popular tomato varieties in 2012 from a TomatoFest customer base of more than 11,000 thousand home gardeners and tomato farmers. From these twenty tomato varieties, Ibsen and his tomato tasting panel, selected the final ten tomato varieties based upon what were determined to be the "best tasting," and to provide a complimentary mix of different colors, sizes and distinctive taste characteristics in the final ten.

"Our survey demonstrated soundly that consumers want the maximum of those "old fashioned" robust flavors in choosing what tomato varieties to grow in their home garden. The same with farmers growing for produce markets and restaurants. Taste reigns supreme," says Ibsen. "And this is the essence of the continued popularity of heirloom tomatoes in America."

Other findings in the TomatoFest survey:

  • In 2012 there was a big increase in first time tomato gardeners. There are more folks wanting to grow foods at home in rural AND urban areas. "This upswing in folks becoming new tomato gardeners or choosing to become small commercial farmers of heirloom tomatoes has been noticeable the past 3 years," says Ibsen.
  • "Black" tomatoes are more popular than in any prior year. "Black" tomatoes are not really black," remarked Ibsen. "They cover a range of dark colors, including deep purple, dusky deep brown, smoky mahogany with dark green shoulders, and bluish-brown. The depth of colors seems to be encouraged by a higher acid and mineral content in the soil."
  • "Black" tomatoes are native to Southern Ukraine during the early 19th century. They originally existed in only a small region of the Crimean Peninsula. Soon they were showing up as new varieties in many shapes and sizes and began to appear throughout the territories of the former Soviet Union. Then they began turning up in the former Yugoslavia, Germany and the United States."
  • There is a continued rise in popularity with the sweeter tasting, yellow/orange and bi-colored tomatoes. "I found a greater presence of these tomato varieties in the tomato mix selected by farmers for their produce market customers. While their priority is still to select varieties and colors most popular with consumers, more farmers are wanting varieties that will not only provide their customers new discoveries, but will also distinctively "stand out" in displays against their competitors," said Ibsen.
  • There is a continued rise in popularity of cherry tomatoes in all colors. Ibsen says, "The past few years of consumers being able to find 'clamshell' packs of multi-colored cherry tomatoes in the marketplace, has encouraged home gardeners to include different colors and flavors in selecting cherry tomatoes for growing at home."
  • 2012 saw a surge in folks seeking 'canning tomatoes' for canning tomatoes at home. More first time canners, as well as people who used to can foods years ago, are getting back into canning again.
  • The heirloom tomato 'classics,' the old-time, favorite, red and pink beefsteak tomatoes, still provide the foundation of interest and loyalty among tomato growers.
  • Photos and descriptions of all the above listed tomato varieties can be found at


    About TomatoFest® Heirloom Tomato Seeds
    Gary Ibsen, author of The Great Tomato Book, founded TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds in 1991 and revitalized the appreciation and desire for heirloom tomatoes. Ibsen's belief in sustainable, organic farming, seed saving and sharing seeds and the stories of their cultural histories, inspired him to grow heirloom tomato varieties for more than 30 years. For the 2012 season, he, and his partner, Dagma Lacey, grew more than 600 varieties of certified organic, heirloom tomatoes from seeds originally sourced from family farms around the world. Their personal, hands-on tomato production and seed harvest techniques ensure the highest quality seeds and help ensure that these precious heirloom tomato varieties will be sustained for years to come. In 2008 Ibsen retired from 18 years of producing the nationally celebrated Carmel TomatoFest event in Carmel, CA. to focus on their TomatoFest seed business. Through their TomatoFest Seed Donation Program, they have donated heirloom tomato seeds to more than 250 non-profit, urban garden projects, school gardens, community outreach gardens around the U.S., India, Africa, Europe, and China. For additional information, visit: