With two months to go in her first pregnancy, Maddy Corey is busy flipping through name books in search of the perfect moniker for her unborn daughter.
Already, a few of her friends and co-workers have offered a few jewels: How about Banana Legs? What about Cherokee Purple? Maxwell's Big Italian and Jersey Devil now those are fine, upstanding names.
Maddy grins as she strolls through Salt Lake City's Grateful Tomato Garden, where hundreds of small green orbs are finally turning various shades of orange, yellow, purple and red.
"Everyone asks if I'm going to name the baby after my favorite heirloom tomato," she says, "and it would certainly be unique. But my husband and I are definitely not naming our daughter Moonglow, no matter how good that tomato may be."
For a woman who tasted her first freshly picked vine tomato only three years ago, Maddy, 27, is certainly making up for lost time.
After living in Evergreen, Colo., where the growing season is shorter than a mayfly's life, she now can't get enough of the homegrown tomatoes that take over the Grateful Tomato Garden every September on the corner of 800 South and 600 East.
As community education coordinator for Wasatch Community Gardens, Maddy is a familiar face in the group's four gardens, overseeing plantings for inner-city kids and answering questions for new gardeners designing their first vegetable plots.
With the garden's 15th annual tomato sandwich party coming up Sept. 6, she wanted to get together for a Free Lunch of BLT sandwiches at the tomato garden to spread the word about the yearly free event, held as a "thank you" to the community.
Although Maddy and I prefer our tomato sandwiches with bacon and mayo, nothing is needed besides homemade pesto sauce and a little salt and pepper to bring out the flavor of heirloom Arkansas Travelers, Green Zebras, Mortgage Lifters and Dingwall Scotties at the tomato party.
Last year, more than 500 tomato lovers showed up to plow through more than 150 pounds of fresh tomatoes more than 30 varieties in all served up on thick bread. Most of the tomatoes were grown by schoolchildren with no space or money for a garden at home.
"We help them start their seeds in the greenhouse, then they plant the tomatoes themselves outside," says Maddy. "They get a huge sense of pride, watching those tomatoes grow."
A few of her young gardeners had never tasted a fresh, sun-warmed tomato before until they started babying heirlooms in the Grateful Tomato Garden.
"Since I started this job, I crave tomatoes," says Maddy, "but they have to be fresh. It's nice to pass that on to these kids and show them that real tomatoes don't grow in the store."
Free of pesticides and watered from an artesian well, some of the heirloom tomatoes grow so large, they're the size of saucers when they're sliced and made into party sandwiches. "I love their different colors and exotic names," says Maddy, although not enough to "go Hollywood" and add an heirloom name to her new baby's birth certificate.
Regardless of how tasty they are on those sandwiches, Radiator Charlie is out of the question, she says.
• The 15th annual tomato sandwich party will be held at the Grateful Tomato Garden, 800 South and 600 East, on Sept. 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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