Sun 8/19 @ 1-5PM
There’s no tomato like an heirloom tomato. Just ask Angela Cavotta who grows 150 varieties of heirloom tomatoes at Cavotta’s Garden Center & Urban Farm located on Nottingham Road in South Collinwood.
“There are thousands of varieties of heirloom tomatoes,” Cavotta said. “I’m a small business, so to compete with other people I have to have a little niche. That’s what I decided to do because I have one tiny greenhouse with heat. So I thought I’d grow a ton of varieties. Now, that’s what I’m getting known for.”
It was two years ago when Cavotta decided to celebrate her niche with the Cavotta’s Heirloom Tomato Tasting event. In 2016, roughly 100 visitors attended. That number doubled last year with Cavotta deciding to up the ante a bit in 2018 by rebranding the affair as the Cleveland Tomato Festival.
“This is like a really cool, old-fashioned place,” Cavotta said. “I make it more like a private party than a big event. It’s quaint.”
The Cleveland Tomato Festival takes place Sun 8/19 (tickets are $50 per person) and includes music and raffles. However, it’s the culinary aspect that acts as the event centerpiece.
Using heirloom tomatoes grown on Cavotta’s Garden Center & Urban Farm, chefs from Coit Road Farmer’s Market, Beachclub Bistro, Bistro 185, Edwins, Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, Irie Jamaican Kitchen, Luxe Kitchen, Marion’s Mediterranean Restaurant & Tapas Bar, Muldoons, Osteria and Violet’s Bakery will be preparing appetizers.
“We’ve have tomato tastings by themselves so you can taste the different tomatoes, but for somebody who doesn’t like a plain tomato, all of the chefs are making things with tomatoes and other ingredients,” Cavotta said.
“I use seeds that have been either passed down through generations for their flavor or there are seeds that are over 40 years old. The tomatoes are just flavorful, delicious and beautiful. They’re just really nice looking.”
While interest is growing in the Cleveland Tomato Festival, Cavotta said she doesn’t plan on moving the event to a larger location in the future.
“The whole point of it is to get people to come to my place,” Cavotta said. “I shouldn’t say never. If I had to, I could always extend it into my parking lot. I have a lot of options here if it does get that big. And it could.
“I spoke to a guy in California this year who had a tomato festival years ago that started with 50 people and it ended up being 3,000 people. Obviously, he had to move to another place. So, hey, if it happens I guess that’s a good thing.”