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$6,000 in Prizes Awarded to Sacramento Backyard Gardeners

By Amy Johnston | Monday August 27, 2007

NatureSweet Tomatoes congratulates of Marty Swindell of Folsom for winning the $2,500 grand prize in the small tomato category at the August 25 Homegrown Tomato Challenge. Swindell won the competition with his Sweet 100 variety of tomatoes.

NatureSweet Tomatoes also congratulates Carla Johansen of Sacramento for winning the other $2,500 grand prize in the large tomato category. Johansen won the competition with her Jumbo Jim Orange variety of tomatoes. This year’s competition was held at Raley’s in Folsom.
While Swindell and Johansen can now claim to be two of America’s best tomato gardeners, they each faced stiff competition by the following runners-up, who all received $250 store vouchers for their premium tomato entries: Denise Jung (Sungold variety), Ilona Romseburg (Isis Candy variety), Doug Hallock (Early Girl variety), and Hunter Mullin (Ace variety). Four finalists were chosen from 185 entries.

NatureSweet’s distinguished judges included Pat Rubin, Home and Garden Writer, Sacramento Bee; Gwen Schoen, Food Writer, Sacramento Bee; Julie Watts, KCRA-TV 3 WeatherPlus Forecaster; Daren Cliff, Editor and Publisher, Edible Sacramento; Patty Mastracco, Raley’s Chef; and Michael Schutt, Raley’s Produce Merchant.

Winners were chosen based on overall appearance/color test and Brix testing. Brix tests determine sweetness — the higher the Brix number, the better the taste. The finalists were then taste-tested by the judge’s panel. All remaining tomatoes – approximately 200 pounds – were donated to Twin Lakes Food Bank after the Challenge.

The Homegrown Tomato Challenge treks across the country as NatureSweet continues to seek out America’s best homegrown tomatoes. JPEG photos of the event & winners are available from For more information, contact Tracy Reeder at 210-396-3966 (cell) or 210-227-0221 (office).

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