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
Heritage Seed Market
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.

Bert Cutino

Chef and co-owner of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, CA
Bio

Bert Cutino

For almost a half century, Bert Cutino has been leading the kitchen of one of the most iconic restaurants in the country. As chef and co-owner of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, CA, Bert has served many well-known figures over the years from Julia Child to Paul Newman, all seeking the regional cuisine he has advocated and perfected.

He has been honored by the Menu Masters Hall of Fame and named a National Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. He’s the recipient of many local, regional and national honors, but equally important are his committed contributions to his community. He co-founded the Drummond Culinary Academy in nearby Salinas, where at-risk students are trained and mentored in culinary skills.

He is dedicated to his life’s work — his restaurant, kitchen, customers, community and fresh cuisine — and stays current on what is classic and simple. He emphasizes quality first, saying, “We’re very fortunate that we have a great diversity of local, fresh and sustainable food choices.” Bert’s creations remain a cornerstone of regional cuisine attracting celebrities and locals to his brand of well-being.

Craig LeHoullier, PhD

Gardener, Author, and Educator.
Bio

Craig LeHoullier, PhD

Craig LeHoullier is a gardener, author, and educator. He’s an accessible, inspiring tomato authority for experts and beginners alike, but he describes himself very modestly, saying, “All I am is Craig LeHoullier — someone that heirloom tomatoes chose to help participate in their continued relevance.”

The author of Epic Tomatoes, one of the most definitive books on the fruit, Craig is also known as the North Carolina Tomato Man, a nod to his home state, where he serves as an advisor at the Seed Savers Exchange. A popular and knowledgeable source of gardening knowledge, he offers weekly blog posts, videos on YouTube and is an in demand speaker scheduled across the nation from the Philadelphia Flower Show to the Chicago Botanic Garden to the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, VA.

Craig’s followers understand that he loves gardening with the same passion they feel. He learned the simple pleasures of gardening walking alongside his grandfather and father. The seeds were planted early, and he expresses his joy in sharing and learning. His depth and breadth of knowledge across seeds, soil, transplanting, pruning, varieties, pests and more are shared easily as a friend would share an insight.

Elizabeth Candelario

Managing Director - Demeter Association, Inc.
Bio

Elizabeth Candelario

Elizabeth Candelario is a seasoned marketer, non-profit executive and strategic advocate for Biodynamic farmers and brands. She is the managing director of Demeter Association, Inc., the U.S. representative of Demeter International. Elizabeth is also immediate past president and current board member of Stellar Certification Services, one of the nation’s first National Organic Program (NOP) accredited organic certification companies.

Elizabeth was personally inspired by Biodynamic agriculture’s positive effects on the food we eat and the environment we live in while marketing director at Quivira Vineyards. There, she experienced first-hand the wine estate’s transition from conventional to Biodynamic farming. Elizabeth joined Demeter in 2008 to assist in expanding awareness about this important regenerative farming method.

Elizabeth utilizes social entrepreneurship to grow the Biodynamic marketplace in this country by connecting and inspiring the retailers, brands, farmers, and supply chain stakeholders needed to make it happen. This work is emboldened by consumers who are demanding quality, transparency, and purpose-driven narratives in the food they eat and the brands they support.

A highly-sought after speaker, Elizabeth has presented at the New Hope Network’s Expo West and Expo East, National Press Club, Lifestyle of Health and Wellness (LOHAS), Organic Monitor’s Sustainable Food Summit, Slow Money’s Annual Conference, Organic Spa Magazine’s Annual Conference, Eco-Farm, the International Beauty Show, and others. Elizabeth’s articles have been published in national media outlets and she has appeared on television, radio, and in print media.

Gwen Young

President of the Tomato Foundation
Bio

Gwen Young

Gwen Young is a nutrition advocate promoting innovative, independent nutrition educational materials and channels. She is president of the Tomato Foundation where she informs and inspires lifestyle as medicine. Prior to her leadership at the Foundation she worked for over two decades promoting healthy tomato products with the aim of increasing the global access and consumption of tomato products worldwide.  The other main aims were to share, promote and fund academic research on tomatoes and human health to support and increase the total scientific knowledge base.  This information was then used to build the education materials and focus future human health research and policy.

    

As Chair of the Tomato and Health Commission at the World Processing Tomato Council, Gwen joined in the effort to analyze the abundance of information published on the health benefits of tomato products and coordinate efforts across markets to promote those products within a healthy diet / lifestyle. She has maintained a focus on food quality from the early days of her career at Nestle’. Today, she leads an important effort to provide simple, truthful nutrition information and promote grassroots, back to basics cooking skills — all with the goal of encouraging people of all ages to take control of their diet and health.

  

Jere Gettle

Founder of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Bio

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 operation, he offers over 1800 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 Bear Creek’s seed catalog.

Jere’s creative range of operations includes a seed store and pioneer-style farming village in the Ozarks of Missouri and a seed bank housed in a renovated bank building in Petaluma, CA. 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.

Nell Newman

Nell Newman Foundation
Bio

Nell Newman

Nell Newman is an environmentalist, biologist and a prominent advisor on sustainable agriculture who supports causes through her own Nell Newman Foundation. She is a founder of an organic food and pet food production company at Newman’s Own Organics and a highly sought after speaker who shares her commitment to organic food and products made from organic ingredients. She has aligned this effort with her environmental concerns.

“By utilizing organic ingredients, we’re supporting the environment through the growth of organic agriculture,” says Nell.

The daughter of actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Nell had an early introduction to natural foods at their rural Connecticut home. She inspires simple acts of choosing, cooking and eating natural and organic as a source of personal well-being and as a commitment to making a difference in causes for which she cares deeply. Her thoughts are highlighted in her book, The Newman’s Own Organics Guide to a Good Life: Simple Measures That Benefit You and the Place You Live.

PK Newby

The Nutrition Doctor
Bio

PK Newby

PK Newby, ScD, MPH, MS {“The Nutrition Doctor”) is a scientist, gastronome, author, and speaker who brings together her passions for food, health, and sustainability to help people translate principles of sound nutrition and green eating to their plates, one delectable bite at a time. She is as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Nutrition at Harvard University, where her research and teaching focuses on obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. She spends most of her time today as a food and science communicator to help put an end to nutrition confusion and reduce preventable diseases that compromise wellbeing.

She is an inspired chef and health expert who offers insights and practical advice to harness the power of nutrition, enabling people to live their healthiest, most delicious lives. Her culinary point of view is science-based, featuring plant-based ingredients and globally inspired flavors that promote health, prevent disease, and protect the planet. Think creamy roasted red pepper and tomato soup, or heavenly marinara sauce starring summer sweet tomatoes. But forget denial: PK celebrates indulgence (in moderation!) as part of her food-loving philosophy.

PK is a passionate in-demand speaker and vibrant media personality who aims to empower people of all walks of life to embrace a healthy and balanced lifestyle, in all the ways she can. She is a fresh food personality for a new millennium, doing for globally inspired and plant-based cuisine what Julia Child did for French fare.

Mike Dunton

Founder of Victory Seed Company
Bio

Mike Dunton

Mike Dunton is first and foremost a family farmer. He can trace his roots in America to the early 1620s and every generation of his family has at one point farmed. Today, the Dunton Family Farm in Liberal, OR is still a true multi-generational family operation and home to the Victory Seed Company.  Founded by Mike in 1998, the Victory Seed Company is the realization of his passion for preserving endangered, open-pollinated and heirloom seed varieties.

Heritage garden seeds of vegetables, herbs, flowers, grain and even tobacco are cultivated at Dunton Family Farm, but tomatoes have been a particular focus of his and by proxy the Victory Seed Company. He and his family have dedicated their efforts to teaching the principles of horticultural heritage, maintaining a seed bank, building a horticultural library, and remaining independent from the mainstream seed trade ensuring important varieties remain commercially available to future generations of gardeners.

Mike honors farming tradition while also being a leading innovator connected to a global community of gardeners and farmers. Each year, he receives their prized seed varieties to trial and make accessible to gardeners. He maintains a vibrant online community of gardening friends, partners and supporters. With efforts such as rebuilding A.W. Livingston’s tomato collection, his choices speak volumes about his dedication to preserving biodiversity and horticultural history.

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
Bio

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 passers-by. 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 about the world’s most popular fruit.

Dagma Lacey

TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds
Bio

Dagma Lacey

If you’re looking for a rare tomato seed, chances are Dagma Lacey has it. An advocate of organic gardening, Lacey is also the co-founder (along with her longtime partner Gary Ibsen) of the world-renowned TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds in Carmel and our World Tomato Society, for which she serves as marketing director.

To the latter role, Lacey brings a strong sense of community, emphasizing that only together can we bring back appreciation for a fruit that has been integral to so many cuisines. For her, that passion was passed down from her maternal ancestors, Bohemian farmers who instilled in Lacey a reverence for people who belonged to the land. As a child moving from village to village near American airbases in Germany, where her father served, she grew more enamored of those who worked the land for sustenance and health.

By the time Lacey met Ibsen, he had already founded the annual TomatoFest in Carmel and had just published The Great Tomato Book. While holding down two jobs in Spokane, Washington, the single mother of five children courted Ibsen long-distance for six years. When her children left home as adults, Lacey relocated to Carmel, where her reputation as a farm girl of heirloom tomatoes was on the rise. The two married in 2006.

Lacey has since been interviewed for TV, radio, and print about her knowledge of sustainable farming. Her community-minded approach has led to her hosting grade-school gardening demonstrations and tomato tastings for Whole Foods Markets. As CEO and CFO of TomatoFest, Lacey supports the well-being and distribution of 650 varieties of organic tomatoes through her hands-on efforts, which include everything from the annual planting of tomato seedlings to fruit photography, and organic certification administration.

Gary Ibsen

TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds
Bio

Gary Ibsen

The founder of TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Seeds began his adult life aboard U.S. Navy nuclear submarines in the early 1960s. He went on to earn a living as an artist; an architectural designer; 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; 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 co-founder 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
Bio

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 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 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 co-founder of and the driving force behind the World Tomato Society.

Harry Murray

President Pertria Real Estate
Bio

Harry Murray

Harry Murray has worked in real estate for more than 40 years, beginning his career two years prior to putting men on the moon! Currently the president of Pertria, a California real estate and property management firm, Harry has contributed to the success of the most powerful real estate firms in Silicon Valley and has become one of the industry’s most widely recognized and well respected executives, but he really wants people to know that he’s just a guy who enjoys what he does and loves people.

Harry marvels at his boats while standing on the deck of his home looking out over the harbor. “Over the years,” he says, “my life has been rich with family, friends, sailing, dogs, good food, laughter and fine wine.” He has sailed the California coast, flown helicopters and traveled throughout the world, but also finds it important to give back to the less fortunate, supporting children’s charities. In the end though, Harry says, “It is not what you achieve in this world, but who you are.”

With a lifetime of accomplishment in real estate, why has Harry jumped into the world of tomatoes? He says simply, “Why not?” It was recognized early in the planning of World Tomato Society that success would require a strong expertise in all things tomato and an equally strong expertise in business. As a co-founder of World Tomato Society, Harry adds pragmatic business management, entrepreneurial drive, and balance to the team. And for Harry, World Tomato Society is another of life’s adventures.

Linda Lico

Co-Founder World Tomato Society
Bio

Linda Lico

Silicon Valley native Linda Lico understands the values and dynamics that grow startup companies. She has served as both an investor and a colleague to young companies during the past decade and has taken on a managerial role at the World Tomato Society. Known to adapt a “devil’s advocate” position in team meetings, she ensures that the paths we take strike a balance between being creatively powerful and logistically possible. Her opinion is constantly sought, as it exudes insight and thorough consideration.

In addition to her work with the World Tomato Society, Linda is a managing partner in Giannotti-Live Oak Properties, a family business that owns and operates a diverse portfolio of properties in the San Francisco Bay Area. Linda’s responsibilities include bookkeeping, working with attorneys, property management, leasing, and dispositions. Prior to joining the family business, Linda enjoyed a 20-plus-year career as a mortgage professional with Partners Mortgage, where she consistently set the bar for success, earning the Top Producer Award a record 17 times and developing lifelong friendships and business connections who continue to enrich her life.

Linda, her husband John, and their dog Scooter love to explore and travel. They never tire of learning new things, seeking new restaurants and resorts, tasting good wines and meeting new people. When home they enjoy morning hikes, dinners and movies with family and friends and spending time in the garden — growing tomatoes, of course.