About the Society

The World Tomato Society believes the tomato makes the world a better place and the wide spread enthusiasm for this iconic fruit enriches communities and lives as a unifier across cultures and time.

Our Mission is to curate, explore, and celebrate all things tomato.

The good we achieve for the world’s most popular fruit benefits people and our planet. We are grateful to those who embrace this commitment.

Seed Providers

There is no question: It all starts with the seed— harvested, stored, and distributed. Our seed partners are dedicated to sharing the pleasures and healthfulness of tomatoes, protecting the legacy of the seed stock, and preserving its history for generations to come.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Castro Farms
Enza Zaden
Fruition Seeds
High Mowing Organic Seeds
J&L Gardens
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Park Seed
Pinetree Garden Seeds
Reimer Seeds
Restoration Seeds
Seed Savers Exchange
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Sustainable Seed Company
Tatiana’s Tomatobase
Territorial Seed Company
Terroir Seeds
TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds
Totally Tomatoes
Trade Winds Fruit
Turtle Tree Seed
Victory Heirloom Seeds

Our Advisors

Agreeing to be an ambassador to champion the world’s most popular fruit is a big endeavor; we could not do it without our advisors. Experts in the fields of health and nutrition, agricultural science, gastronomy, gardening, horticulture, and business, they provide a wealth of knowledge and experience, and they are the compass that keeps us on course.

Jere Gettle

Founder of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Jere Gettle

Jere Gettle has had a lifelong passion for growing things and a dedication for nurturing heirloom seeds and making them widely accessible. He is the founder of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, which offers the largest selection of heirloom vegetable, flower, and herb varieties in the United States. From his base of operations, he offers over 1,800 varieties and unique seeds from over 75 countries.

Jere and his wife, Emilee, are focused on promoting and preserving our agricultural and culinary heritage. Encouraging a continuous exchange of ideas and seeds is their motivation as authors, publishers, and educators as well as conveners of gardeners and natural food enthusiasts. Over 700,000 gardeners receive Baker Creek’s seed catalog.

Jere’s creative range of operations includes a seed store and pioneer-style farming village in the Ozarks of Missouri as well as a seed bank housed in a renovated bank building in Petaluma, California. He and Emilee are philanthropists with global hearts, supplying free seeds to many of the world’s poorest countries as well as here at home in school gardens and educational projects. At the core of their work as advocates for a better and safer food supply is to make nutrition and education accessible for all.

Bradley Ogden

Founder of Lark Creek Inn, co-founder of Bradley Ogden Hospitality

Bradley Ogden

Chef Bradley Ogden is an award-winning chef and entrepreneur. He rose to prominence as the executive chef of San Francisco’s Campton Place Hotel and later opened his signature restaurant, The Lark Creek Inn, in nearby Marin County to acclaim by leading critics and publications as one of the nation’s best restaurants. With his son, Bryan, he founded Bradley Ogden Hospitality, a multifaceted organization that embraces all aspects of food and beverage, and brings his culinary expertise to innovative ventures and concepts. 

He has received numerous honors, including Chef of the Year by the Culinary Institute of America and two James Beard Foundation Awards for Best Chef: California and Best New Restaurant for Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. A native of upstate Michigan, Chef Bradley believes the greatest influence on his cooking came from early exposure to the quality and taste of freshly caught trout, free-range chickens, and handpicked fruits and vegetables. His philosophy remains, “Keep it simple, use the freshest ingredients available, and put them together in such a way that the flavors, colors, and textures combine to bring out the best in each other.”

The Founders

If it all starts with a seed, our founders are the nourishment that give the World Tomato Society life. Their passions run deep for people, community, the environment, and, of course, all things tomato.

Cynthia Sandberg

Founder: Love Apple Farms

Cynthia Sandberg

Cynthia Sandberg began her career as a trial attorney but set aside practicing law after her gardening hobby developed into a passion. She founded Love Apple Farms in 2002, originally located at her two-acre farmhouse in Ben Lomond. There, she cultivated rare, open-pollinated tomato varieties from seed, selling seedlings and fruit to passersby. Demand for her plants grew such that Love Apple Farms’ annual plant sale, now the largest in California, vends over 100 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. After developing a partnership with David Kinch of Manresa restaurant in 2006, she moved to 21 acres of terraced Santa Cruz Mountain hillside. In 2012, Love Apple Farms earned Demeter biodynamic certification.

The name Love Apple Farms originates from a European nickname for tomatoes. When old-world explorers first introduced the fruit—native to Central and South America—to European markets, consumers believed them to be aphrodisiacs—hence “love apples.”

Cynthia teaches 40 weekend gardening classes per year at Love Apple Farms. Her expertise garners frequent requests to speak at gardening and biodynamic farming events. She has given lectures at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, Eco-Farm, MAD Symposium in Copenhagen, and the Nordic Barista Cup in Oslo, Norway. Topics in her repertoire include Mastering the Art of the Tomato, Introduction to Biodynamic Gardening, Farmer/Chef Relationships, Designing the Perfect Vegetable Garden, and All-Season Vegetable Gardening.

Cynthia conceived of a global tomato-loving community many years ago when she realized that there existed no worldwide group to revere and preserve the diversity of the world’s tomato varieties. In 2014, she founded the World Tomato Society with Gary Ibsen, Linda Lico, Harry Murray, and Helen Pastorino, and has worked hard to celebrate and educate others about the world’s most popular fruit.

Gary Ibsen

TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds

Gary Ibsen

The founder of TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds began his adult life aboard US Navy nuclear submarines in the early 1960s. He went on to earn a living as an artist; an architectural designer; an owner of a Cajun restaurant; and a marketing consultant for Coca-Cola. Then he fell in love with food—and studied cooking in Italy with Marcella Hazan, eventually serving with Julia Child and Robert Mondavi on the founding board of directors for the American Institute of Wine & Food. Ibsen was the creator of two award-winning food magazines, until one day, a Portuguese farmer in Carmel Valley presented Ibsen with his first heirloom tomato plants—and his entire world shifted. He went on to launch the annual Carmel TomatoFest event and write The Great Tomato Book, the quintessential volume on the life and times of the world’s most popular fruit.

As the cofounder of the World Tomato Society, Ibsen is a vital source of tomato expertise and celebration. The “TomatoMan” is known to tomato fanatics around the world as a pioneer of the heirloom tomato. His online TomatoFest store and annual event is revered as one of the first companies in America to grow, harvest, and distribute only certified-organic tomato seeds. Ibsen is one of the world’s strongest advocates for sustainable agriculture and has saved many heirloom tomato varieties. To date, Ibsen and his wife and partner, Dagma Lacey, have grown and preserved seeds for 800 tomato varieties in their TomatoFest Seed Bank; they sell more than 650 tomato varieties through their website. “I can’t think of another food . . . that has so many people’s emotions, memories, and loyalties attached to it,” says Ibsen.

His commitment to seed-saving efforts and telling the story of each variety of heirloom tomato has become the foundation of the World Tomato Society.

Helen Pastorino

President, World Tomato Society

Helen Pastorino

On the way from her office to a critical client meeting, Helen Pastorino stops briefly in the lobby to remove a speck of dust from a painting. It is a telling moment that reveals Helen’s rare ability to focus intently on multimillion-dollar decisions without overlooking seemingly inconsequential details. Helen’s strengths stem from her drive to build strong cultures, collaborative teams, and enterprise value, and her supportive force is rivaled by none. We are very fortunate at the World Tomato Society to have her leadership and energy to drive our success.

Helen is a prominent leader in Silicon Valley real estate, with the accomplishments of  being the founder and former president of Alain Pinel Realtors. Under Helen’s leadership, Alain Pinel grew to be valued at $3 billion and was the seventh-largest real estate firm in the country. Helen was an early pioneer in the use of information technology in the real estate industry and is often sought by news media to speak on her success in innovation and use of technology to create unparalleled client experiences and performance. Helen expanded on her experiences at Alain Pinel when she founded Pertria, an evolutionary progression of Helen’s quest for excellence and remarkable professional achievement.

Helen speaks of her early experiences in nature fondly, culminating in time spent with her elegant Andalusian horses. She integrates their grace and poise into her leadership style, ensuring the smallest of details is accounted for and in alignment with brand image and voice. She has much to offer with her entrepreneurial spirit and unwavering professionalism, but she always makes time to appreciate the complex flavors of a fresh tomato brought in by one of her clients. It is little wonder how Helen came to be a cofounder of and the driving force behind the World Tomato Society.