Get a taste of heirloom tomatoes and Iowa history

Taste of Heirloom Tomatoes

Plum Grove Historical Site, 1030 Carroll St, Iowa City — Sunday, Aug. 26 from 2-4 p.m.

Video still of heirloom tomatoes.

Fans of heirloom tomatoes can get a taste of history at Iowa City’s oldest house when Johnson County Master Gardeners host their 6th annual “Taste of Heirloom Tomatoes” at the Plum Grove Historical Site on Sunday.

Several varieties of heirloom tomatoes will be featured during the two-hour event’s titular tasting, including Slanders, Jefferson Giant, Abe Lincoln, German Lunchbox and the German Red Strawberry. Attendees will be able to vote on which variety is best. The event will also feature samples of heirloom-based recipes.

In addition to the tasting, master gardener Holly Hendrix will present a program about heirloom tomatoes.

Johnson County Master Gardeners, a program of the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office, started in 1982. Anyone interested in taking classes to become a master gardener can sign up for the training course taught by the Extension and Outreach office. It’s a 40-hour course, and costs $195.

Attendees will be able to tour Plum Grove’s historic vegetable and flower gardens, which are part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens.

Plum Grove was built in 1844, for Robert and Friendly Lucas. Lucas was appointed as the first governor of the Territory of Iowa by President Martin Van Buren in 1838 and served for three years. There is a certain irony in the fact Lucas was married to someone named Friendly. His behavior as governor was described by a contemporary as “vexatious, ungraceful, petulant, ill-natured and dogmatic” and the first territorial legislature passed a resolution declaring Lucas “unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

Lucas lived in the red brick Greek Revival-style home until his death in 1853. His family sold the property 13 years later, and it was eventually donated to the state of Iowa in the 1940s.

“Taste of Heirloom Tomatoes” begins at 2 p.m. Admission is $3.

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