Phil Swindler of Wilmington, Ohio stands in a hoop-house at his family’s flower and garden center, Swindler & Sons Florists. Swindler is preparing for the second annual Tomadah Paradah, a tomato festival that features more than 100 varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes. “Most people don’t realize that there are more than 10,000 varieties of tomatoes,” Swindler said. “When I tell them we grow more than 80 varieties here, they don’t even know that there are 80 varieties. I can see why — it’s outlandish to think there are more than 10,000 types of this red fruit.”
Swindler has partnered with Wilmington College in organizing and hosting the yearly festival, which helps promote Clinton County as an agri-tourism destination. New and veteran gardeners compete for the backyard bragging rights of growing the heaviest, tastiest and most unique varieties oflycopersicon esculentum.
Swindler’s partner in organizing Tomadah Paradah is Monte Anderson, a professor of agriculture at WC. “People are proud of their tomatoes,” Anderson said. “Tomadah Paradah gives them an opportunity to show them off.
Agriculture remains the biggest contributor to the regional economy in Clinton County, Ohio. This series highlights actors in the county’s local food economy, from farmers and restaurant owners to community gardeners and food pantry directors.
The photographer, John Cropper, is a Clinton County native, a journalist at the Wilmington News Journal and a fledgling gardener. He came to CoLab Radio via Energize Clinton County, which “grew out of a citizen movement to broaden participation in economic development, and regain control of our local economy.”