Every year the Fullerton College Horticulture Department works hard to bring to fruition its annual Tomato Sale, which includes over 8,000 plants. This popular event took place March 4-6 at the campus nursery.
The plants were sold for low prices that ranged from $1 to $4. With over 130 flavors of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers and assorted succulents, there was a wide variety for customers to choose from.
The morning of Friday, March 4, was the busiest day according to intern and student Greg Quint. He explained that there was a line of people ready to buy products.
When asked what type of customers attend the sale, coordinator and FC faculty member, Jeff Feaster replied, “Homeowners mostly. We have a mailing list of about 5,000 people that we send out mail or email to and they come back year after year.”
Other promotional items include flyers, the staff website, but the gist of it is word-of-mouth from repeat customers.
“Our tomato sale is pretty well known in the community. We have had people come from the beach areas, Escondido, and Lake Elsinore” Feaster said.
It is a pretty big deal.The tomato sale is the biggest moneymaker of the year, and takes a lot of strategic work to prepare for.
“We started sewing the seeds over the winter break. The transplant was about three weeks ago, and after they stay here in the hoop houses. Then get fertilized, watered and warm in these plastic houses,” explained Feaster as he pointed at several plastic tent-looking houses.
There were about nine tables set out with various types of plants, each labeled with their own unique plant name that included a vivid picture of what the tomato will eventually look like.
Customers had their pick of plants named “Fresh Salsa”, “Viva Italia” including new arrivals like “Big Beef” and the “Jersey Devil”.
Many left the nursery knowing that their plant would grow into something they will have no fear of putting into their stomachs.
“I came with my daughter last year and I have no complaints. I was told how to water my plant and it grew just the way I thought it would,” Elizabeth Perez said. Perez is a long-time customer and resident of Fullerton.
Feaster also stresses the importance of listening to feedback. He explains that if a customer does not enjoy a certain plant then it will not be sold.
The Tomato Sale is an effort put together by several staff including: Feaster, full-time Horticulture instructor Valerie Loew, lab technician Diane Komos, Kent Gordon, Dave Pulambo, and a total of five interns who attend Fullerton College.
The proceeds from the sales go to pay the interns salaries’. This is one of the events that helps raise funds for the department to provide the internships.
The Tomato Sale is beneficial for the interns because they learn how to propagate and market the plants.
For a complete list of what is available customers are encouraged to visit the Horticulture Departure’s website.