The One Vegetable One Community (OVOC) Program was created in 2011 to build community around educating, growing, and eating a featured vegetable each year. Selections are voted on during an annual fall Harvest Dinner, where impassioned gardeners have been known to appear in costume to nominate their choices. The winning vegetable achieves a spot of honor for the year, and the largest tribute of all is reaching every 2nd grader at Duluth Public Schools with a Vegetable-of-the-Year lesson.
Each spring, OVOC and Duluth Farm-to-School collaborate to create and distribute an agricultural lesson to over 1,000 2nd Grade students that aligns with their ‘Parts of a Plant’ learning standard. This year it will be tomato-themed, including a reading of Tomatoes for Neela by Padma Lakshmi, a taste test of fresh locally grown cherry tomatoes, and a transplanting activity where each child will go home with their very own tomato plant. In addition to all the supplies needed for these activities, each school also receives a copy of the storybook to add to their library.
Another boon of the OVOC program is the distribution of free seeds to the community. You can find the Duluth Community Garden Program tabling at the Duluth Farmers Market in early spring, giving away free heirloom tomato seeds and expert gardening advice. The year’s seeds are Siberian tomatoes, chosen for their ability to set fruit at cooler temperatures, adaptation for a shorter growing season, and prolific red fruits. While they last, these seeds will also be available in our four Little Free Seed Libraries across the city.
While tomatoes are technically and botanically a fruit, in cuisine and culture they are treated as a vegetable. A member of the deadly nightshade family, tomatoes were once thought to be poisonous- but they are quite the opposite. Delicious in endless applications, tomatoes are also a major source of the antioxidant lycopene which proclaims links to a variety of health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease. Their high-acid content makes them a great candidate for home canning (but be sure to follow USDA guidelines!).
If you're interested in learning more, follow the Duluth Community Garden Program on Facebook and Instagram for weekly Tomato Tip Tuesdays. We'll share advice on selecting varieties, planting, feeding, and pruning your tomato plants as well as how to harvest, store, cook, and preserve your precious bounty.
OVOC was made possible in 2022 by funding from the Lloyd K Johnson Foundation. If you’d like to donate to DCGP, please click on this link https://www.duluthcommunitygarden.org/support/donate .
Contact: Haley Diem, Duluth Community Garden Program (DCGP) Education and Outreach Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org