8.30.2009

The Fungus Among Us


Throughout Connecticut, this time of year is synonymous with tomatoes. There are usually heirloom tomato festivals to be found, people are singing the praises of their beefsteaks, bags of cherry tomatoes pass from neighbor to neighbor, and home cooks are cooking down their plum tomatoes to freeze for the long winter ahead. Alas, not this year.

This year, Connecticut was hit with late blight, the same fungus that destroyed the Irish potato crop in the 1800s, and farmers and home gardeners alike have witnessed the destruction of their beloved tomato plants. In an August 12
article, the Hartford Courant reported that Urban Oaks Organic Farm in New Britain lost over 80% of its 7,000 plants, a loss equal to over $100,000 in sales, and that the blight had spread to six out of eight state counties. Add to that the wet summer which made some fungicides ineffective, and there are few good tomatoes to be found.

Last week's Coventry Farmers' Market theme should have been "Heirloom Tomato Fest." Instead, the market masters put their chins up and held "Fungus Fest," a celebration of mushrooms and an attempt to make light of the blight. The CT Valley Mycological Society was on hand to show off some prized specimens and to take folks on foraging walks. Local chefs performed culinary demonstrations showcasing mushrooms and other CT grown products. Even the soapmakers got into the spirit - Rich Valley Farm offered a special "Dirt" fragrance goat milk soap.

If you are lucky enough to have tomatoes this summer, please enjoy them, celebrate them, and have one for us. While we enjoyed the celebration of the fungus among us, we miss our tomatoes.

1 comment:

JK said...

What a shame that you won't EAT THEM!!!!!!!! I haven't given up...