If I say in my garden I am growing Pink Ping Pongs, Green Zebra, Bumble Bee Purple, Mamma Mia and Rapunzel, then what do you think I am growing?

If you answered Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes, you are 100% correct!

Did you know that there are more than 3,000 varieties of heirloom or heritage tomatoes in active cultivation worldwide and more than 15,000 known varieties? Unbelievable!

The Tomato Extravaganza! event will not be happening this year. All things considered, the TE! planning team and the Edmonton Horticultural Society have taken this decision.

Tomato Extravaganza! 2018 was a ton of fun. We had over 100 tomato varieties on display and you could sample most of them if you wanted to.

Let’s keep our entries, our sharing, our discussions, our photos, on the Tomato Extravaganza! Facebook page as lively, educational and fun as possible. New members are welcome!

Have you decided which tomatoes you are planting this year? There are only a few thousand to select from!

What was your favourite from last year and is a must have this year?

Tomato Extravaganza! 2017

The first Tomato Extravaganza! was held in 2017 at the Hole’s Greenhouses and Gardens at the Enjoy Centre. The inspiration for the event came when Donna Bagdan learned of the 73 heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties being grown by Arch Greenhouses. The Enjoy Centre was the perfect venue to showcase a variety of tomato programs and activities. 590 attendees enjoyed the event, which featured:

  • Tomato Talks
  • Tomato Displays featuring numerous new and unusual tomato varieties
  • Tomato Alley Tours led by Jim Hole, which was a behind-the-scenes view of the many heirloom and hybrid varieties of tomatoes grown by the Hole family
  • Tomato Tastings by Mark Hughes and Garry Phillips which provided an opportunity to taste a wide variety of lesser known varieties
  • Cooking Demos
  • Tomato competition
  • Caricatures
  • Tomato art
  • Tomato mascots
  • Guess the number of tomatoes in a jar
  • Fantastic door prizes

Tomato Extravaganza! 2017 was recognized on March 15th, 2018 at the Edmonton Event Awards with the Outstanding Event: Start Up Award. The Team was thrilled to be recognized for creating a successful event with a small budget and getting such significant recognition.

Tomato Extravaganza! 2018

Based on the efforts and talents of the organizing committee from the inaugural Tomato Extravaganza! 2017, Tomato Extravaganza! was back in 2018 to broaden the reach of tomatoes for those who year after year grow tomatoes in their own yards and for those who are giving them a try for the first time!

617 people took in the tastings, tours, cooking demonstrations, talks, competition, and other events. The variety of tomatoes was even greater – well over 100 kinds. The beautiful display was admired by all. BMR Greenhouses also brought a hot pepper display.

40 volunteers made the day go smoothly and had fun doing it.

Food Bank Partnership

You may have heard about a campaign called ‘Plant a Row, Grow a Row’. It has been promoted for several years by the Food Bank. Many community gardeners are doing just this. Root vegetables flood in to the Food Bank in the fall, but they love tomatoes, too!

We encouraged everyone who attended to consider growing an extra tomato plant or two and bring the fruit to the event to share with the Edmonton Food Bank. In 2018, attendees and sponsors donated 598 kilograms (1,318 pounds) of tomatoes!

The Edmonton Food Bank has a mission: to be stewards in the collection of surplus and donated food for effective distribution, free of charge, to people in need in our community while seeking solutions to the causes of hunger. People access the services directly from the Food Bank or through more than 230 agencies, churches, and food depots, and 59 schools. The Food Bank serves over 22,000 people a month.

Mystery Tomato!


In 2018, the Edmonton Food Bank and Jim Hole collaborated and a ‘Mystery’ tomato was secretly grown and nurtured by Jim at Hole’s. The ‘Mystery’ high yielding tomato plant, which enjoyed Hole’s wonderful tomato growing environment, was available at the Tomato Extravaganza! for guests to admire and enter a contest to guess the variety. The variety turned out to be ‘Celebrity.’

Ellerslie Tomato Planter

Ellerslie Tomato PlanterAlso in 2018, a very large tomato planter with very large tomato plants, from Ellerslie Gift and Garden Centre, was shown at Tomato Extravaganza! Just look at the bounteous beauty created by Farrah, Sandi, Liz, Aislinn and Glenda!

There were three tomato plants in the planter: Mighty Mato grafted tomato “Get Stuffed,” Mighty Mato grafted tomato “Pineapple” (Yellow tomato), and Ketchup ‘n’ Fries grafted Tomato: Yellow potato and Sweet Cherry Tomato.

They were planted in a 36”W X 36”H dark blue self-watering Desert planter. Desert Planters have large reservoirs to reduce the need for daily watering and minimize the amount of water needed. They come in all shapes and sizes, including a hanging pot version. Staff say it really makes gardening easy! The City of Edmonton uses this technology for hundreds of their flower displays.

There was a second Desert planter, too! It was red, 30 x 30 x 23”H and had the following pepper plants thriving in it:  grafted orange, golden, and red bell. Gorgeous AND productive!

Why We Grow!

We celebrate the various types of tomatoes that we can grow magnificently in our Capital Region, motivate more people to grow tomatoes, foster excitement about growing more varieties of tomatoes, show what fun it is to try unusual tomatoes with unbelievable colours, stripes, colour blends and shapes along with some quirky growing habits, encourage the enjoyment of eating tomatoes in more than the usual ways, engage the gardening and food community in our city to raise the profile and the merits of food gardening including tomatoes, and we will expand the Edmonton Horticultural Society’s community outreach regarding support for food gardening interests!