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September 06, 2013

Nice Grants Update: Clifton on the River Green Tomato Festival

September 06, 2013

If you’ve been following SmallBox for even a little while, you know that we value being nice – so much so that back at the end of 2012, ‘Boxers decide to forgo a cash bonus or the highly sought after office ping pong table to give away five $1,000 no-strings-attached grants to creative Hoosiers. And like that, Nice Grants was born. But then, Angie’s List decided to match the donations dollar-for-dollar, creating five more grants for community-minded projects around the city.

One of those recipients was a group of folks that puts on a green tomato festival right in their neighborhood – they call it the Clifton on the River Green Tomato Festival. With the inaugural affair under their belts, the committee began preparing for this year’s September 14th event many months in advance.

After an extra harsh winter, the group couldn't get the seedlings – 70 of them! – passed out to the neighborhood until late May. The types of plants included Green Zebra, a mid-sized, striped green tomato; Tigerella, a tiger-striped red fruit; Rose, an heirloom that is pink to crimson in color; and Super Sioux, a traditional round, juicy variety.

Baby tomato plants in a Clifton greenhouse.

Sarah Grain, one of the festival’s chief coordinators, said she takes pride in what her neighbors have accomplished in the months leading up to the second annual event. From the young kids dedicated to tending to their tomato plants through the dog days of summer to the 90-plus-year-old gentleman who hosts committee meetings on his front porch, the planning process is truly a community responsibility. Neighbors also volunteer to provide fryers (for frying the green tomatoes, naturally), make side dishes and desserts, clean up the festival grounds, and bring any other needed supplies.

In addition to delectable tomatoes and other pitch-in foods, the festival will include a bounce house and a trampoline competition for the youngsters. Also, in its second year, Clifton on the River will feature live local music. Sweet Poison Victim will play the festival from 4:30 to 5:30. The nine-piece cultural fusion band actually practices twice a week near the same intersection that is the heart of the neighborhood and green tomato festival.

In the words of Sarah Grain, “The Clifton on the River Green Tomato Festival is a small block party, meant to grow in size as the loving and respectful interactions between neighbors become more plentiful - and I am certain that is happening."

The Clifton on the River Green Tomato Festival will be held on Saturday, September 14 from 3-6 p.m. at the usually vacant lots west of 36th and Clifton.  The committee invites attendees to pitch in with beverages, sides, and of course, tomatoes!

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