Tuesday, May 3 , 2016, 2:59 pm | Overcast 63º

Tomatomania Brings Healthy Fundraising to Isla Vista School

By Dean Zatkowsky for the Orfalea Foundation |

Since 2004, all school districts participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs have been required to establish a local wellness policy. In a nutshell, local wellness policies are a tool for communities and local education agencies to articulate and promote healthy lifestyles for their children.

LWPs include guidelines for nutrition education, physical activity, school meals and any other foods made available to students on campus during school hours. Ideally, all school-based activities should be designed to promote student wellness.

With the above in mind, the School Food Initiative took a closer look at many of the traditional fundraising choices available for schools. Skimming a few of the most popular school fundraising websites, SFI found a slew of giant-sized candy bars, something called “Yummy Lips” lollipops, flavored caramel popcorn, cotton candy, gummy bears and frozen cookie dough.

These are promoted as a “no risk” opportunity to the schools. Simply turn the kids loose to take orders and let the money roll in. SFI decided to facilitate a fundraising opportunity for a local school that encourages seasonality, locality and healthful eating. It’s called Tomatomania.

The one-day seedling sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Isla Vista School, 6875 El Colegio Road in Goleta. A percentage of sales at the event will be donated to Isla Vista School.

According to Tomatomania’s organizer, Scott Daigre, his event is “the world’s largest (and most fun) heirloom tomato seedling sale.” The New York Times simply calls it “the tomato-freak’s Woodstock.”

“For years, hybridizers gave us a handful of red tomatoes in various sizes and that’s what we planted,” Daigre said. “With heirloom varieties, variations in color, texture and flavor are almost endless.”

Some of his current favorite tomato varieties:

» For abundance and flavor — Green Doctors, Stupice, Sungella, Vorlon, Thessaloniki

» For the perfect BLT — Any tomatoes in the black tomato family like Ananas, Noire, and Vorlon

» For canning and roasting — Amish Paste, Oxheart, Strawberry

» To win a beauty contest — Black Crème, Cherokee Purple

In addition to more than 50 varieties of seedlings, the event will feature everything from pots and fertilizer to stakes and enthusiastic expert advice. Think of it as a one-stop-shop for successfully growing great-tasting tomatoes in your own backyard.

— Dean Zatkowsky is the communications manager for the Orfalea Foundation.

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