Late summer 2007, Nigel was called to an emergency meeting in Dixon on a Saturday night after the market. Someone in town had brought back a papaya from Hawaii and a Mediterranean Fruit Fly along with it. Our farm fell into the quarantine zone, which meant we could not take any soft fruit off the farm and out of the zone. The tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers could not leave the farm and it was the height of the summer crops season. This was quite devastating, actually. Our response was to have a party and invite our members out to the farm to make tomato sauce with the summer produce and thus the Tomato Sauce Party was born.
Nearly a decade later, the annual Sauce Party has evolved tremendously! Walking through the event center on Saturday, I was amazed by how many people had really big saucing operations going. In a space that in previous years handled nearly 150 people, we are filled to the brim at only 90. Gone are the days of people making a few jars to take home, now we have groups making over 200 jars or one couple producing over 50! This is serious business, and it has made me re-think how we will run the parties next year. Clearly our cap of 150 people will drop by a lot. And maybe some pre-discussions of anticipated production might be in order, so we can arrange the tables and tents a bit better. Regardless of how we improve things for next year, I have to say I am so impressed with what the attendees are doing. It has been great fun for both Nigel and I, to see how this event has evolved and we can only laugh when we think back to our humble beginnings during such a stressful time. The stress hasn't left, it has simply changed, but your enthusiasm for saucing has grown by leaps and bounds. One party left to go, I look forward to seeing those of you who have signed up!