An advocate of sustainable agriculture, Gary Ibsen has given talks about growing tomatoes for the University of California, regional garden clubs and has made several presentations on the nationally syndicated television show, P. Allen Smith's Gardens. Gary was also Founder, Publisher and Editorial Director of the award-winning Adventures In Dining magazine and prior to that, Monterey Life magazine. by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for best cookbook in the single subject category. In the 80s, Gary served on the Founding Board of The American Institute of Wine & Food.
Gary is a respected leader in the tomato industry due to his knowledge through growing and harvesting organic heirloom tomato varieties for more than 40 years. In the mid 90s, Gary, through his TomatoFest Farm, supplied heirloom tomatoes to restaurants and markets in Central California. Gary Ibsen was the Founder and Executive Director of the Carmel TomatoFest event that took place in Carmel, California (1997-2008). This event attracted tomato lovers from around the world. National publicity of this annual event supported the resurgence in popularity of organic heirloom tomatoes.
Dagma Lacey is also a respected advocate of organic gardening and is cofounder and CEO and CFO of TomatoFest. She brings with her a strong sense of community, emphasizing that only together can we regain appreciation for a fruit that has been integral to so many cuisines. This passion was passed down from her maternal ancestors, Bohemian farmers who instilled in her a reverence for people who worked the land for sustenance and health.
By the time Dagma had met Gary, he had already founded the annual TomatoFest 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, Dagma relocated to California, where her reputation as a farmer of heirloom tomatoes was on the rise. The two married in 2006.
Dagma 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. She supports the well-being and distribution of 650 varieties of certified organic tomatoes through her hands-on efforts, which include everything from the annual planting and harvesting of tomato seeds, to fruit photography and organic certification administration.
Gary and Dagma are currently active in supporting numerous urban, school and community garden programs world-wide through TomatoFest Seed Donations Program, in their effort to support bio-diversity, ensure that heirloom tomato varieties will be preserved, and to feed those in need.
Gary and Dagma are Co-Founders of the World Tomato Society a global community committed to cultivating, discovering, sharing, educating and preserving all things tomato.
Together they enjoy their eight children and nine grandchildren.