Bruce Bartuska of Avoca has patiently watched and minded his 240 tomato plants all season.
Now his crop of tomatoes has started to sprout and ripen, ready to become the chili and salsa Bartuska and his son always sell at Pittston City Farmers Market and Tomato Festival.
“Pittston is a chili town,” Bartuska said. “They love the chili there.”
Bartuska, under the banner of Tim’s Chili and Salsa, joins the throng of vendors offering produce and products at the city’s farmers market every Tuesday in the lower Tomato Festival lot.
“I make a lot for when I’m down there,” he said. “I love going down there.”
Because all of the tomatoes Bartuska uses are homegrown, this time of the year is the only season in which he can sell his chili and salsa. He said Pittson’s events bring in enough business for him to continue year after year.
“We do a lot of work for it but we just enjoy it,” he said.
City events coordinator Sarah Donahue said the markets, which started back up in June, have drawn good crowds so far.
“I’m thrilled that people are supporting the local farmers,” she said.
The market held its first Children’s Day of the year at the end of July, but Donahue said rain did cause a less than ideal turnout.
“The kids that came all had a great time,” she said.
The next Children’s Day is scheduled for Aug. 21, she said.
“And hopefully the weather will be better,” she said.
With tomatoes, the city’s premier produce, coming into season, Bartuska said he can recommend plenty of uses for ones like the “supersonic” and “big boy” tomatoes he likes to grow.
“I like eating tomatoes just out of the jar,” he said.
He recommended chili on hot dogs or homemade salsa as a snack with chips or even as a dressing for fish.
After making plenty of salsa and chili, Bartuska said he and his family use their crop to make soups, sauces and more.
He looked forward to any chance to sell his tomato products in the “Quality Tomato Capital of the World.”
“It’s a great place to come,” he said.