On August 30, Rutgers Snyder Research and Extension Farm hosted its Open House and Tomato Tasting in Pittstown, New Jersey. Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway and NJAES Executive Director Laura Lawson joined a large crowd of loyal tomato-lovers at the annual event.
With paper dishes and plastic forks in hand, visitors sampled more than 50 tomato varieties grown by Snyder Farm staff and Rutgers Master Gardener volunteers.
According to Peter Nitzsche, agriculture and natural resource county agent and director of Snyder Farm, a new tomato variety called “Two Tasty”—a flavorful large, red cherry tomato with purple shoulders—was a favorite among tasters.
“It also doesn’t hurt that New Jersey residents are so passionate about tomatoes and tomato flavor,” Nitzsche adds.
The Open House and Tomato Tasting offers new activities and experiences for visitors year after year, including wagon tours of the farm and stunning garden displays that are maintained by the Rutgers Master Gardeners, who are vital members of the research team and community at the farm.
Rutgers Master Gardeners conduct labor-intensive research, assist in maintaining and harvesting crops for data collection, and sort and package produce to donate to local charities and those in need.
“The Open House and Tomato Tasting event would not happen without the Master Gardeners,” Nitzsche says. At the event, they act as tour guides and answer any gardening questions that visitors may have.
The 390-acre farm, which serves as the Rutgers University Center for Sustainable Agriculture, is also known for its charity and community ideals. It offers home lawn, garden, orchard programs as well as internship opportunities for students. The farm supports hunger relief efforts, donating fresh produce to local residents in need once the research is concluded.
Nitzsche is proud of the strong character of the staff, stating they always try to address problems of local need and concern. President Holloway’s presence was greatly appreciated by Nitzsche, master gardeners and staff members at Snyder Farm.
“Agricultural research often involves faculty, staff, and volunteers working long days in all types of weather. President Holloway’s presence shows he values all of this hard work and the impact it has on the community.”
This article was written by OPOC intern Emily Ranieri.