As we get ready for the 9th Annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival, benefiting Georgia Organics, on Sunday, July 16, we wanted to highlight some of the farmers who make the delicious meals possible with their hard work in the fields.
In this edition, we spoke with Farmer Bobby Britt of Besmaid Garden Essentials in Decatur, Georgia, who’s family has been farming for decades.
How long have you been farming this land?
My dad built that house in 1960 and would come home from work and plant the land when I was a little kid. Then when I was 16 or 17 I started gardening, and Ace Hardware was throwing away 50 tomato plants, so I planted them.
’06 is when it really took off when I started working with Cakes and Ale. Daniel Parson was my inspiration. He was the original grower at Gaia Gardens and has a place at Oxford now. My dad back in the ’60’s bought an organic encyclopedia, and I just evolved and went to straight organics. You gotta do it. I’ve been learning about the insects and what to do about them.
What chefs and restaurants do you deliver to?
I do a loop around Atlanta that takes all day. Last Tuesday, I delivered to 27 restaurants in ten hours, and I’m whooped. I’m so close to Atlanta that I’m within 20 miles of most restaurants: Gunshow, White Oak, Watershed, Wahoo, Leon’s, Brickstore, M572 in Tucker, and lots more.
What kinds of tomatoes are you growing?
Mortgage Lifters, Lemon Boys, Green Zebras, Celebrity Red Rounds, Indigo Rose, Veronas, and I’ve got 600 Sun Gold plants. That’s the most popular tomato this time of year. The season is around 4th of July. You used to be lucky to get a tomato before July. Global warming…? Now I’m picking 300 pounds a week. But there has been too much rain, and a lot of the plants turned yellow.
What else do you grow?
White eggplant, Fairy Tale eggplant, pimento peppers, jalapenos, purple cauliflower, Diva cucumbers, fava beans, kabocha squash, zucchini…
What do you love about Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival?
‘Tis the season for the Killer Tomato Festival! I went to the first Killer Tomato Festival when they had those beautiful t-shirts, and I’ve been ever since. This year, I’m probably going to be paired up with chefs from Saltyard, Cast Iron, St. Cecilia’s, the Optimist, and 246. I’m talking to Ford Fry and making sure he’s going to play a few sets in the band.