Le Conservatoire National de la Tomate, National Tomato Conservatory, is the world's biggest collection of tomato varieties, approved by the French Conservatory of Specialized Plant Collections in 1998.
It was initiated in 1995 by Louis-Albert de Broglie who started to cultivate a collection of tomato varieties he had gathered during his many trips, in the gardens of the the Château de la Bourdaisière, at Mont-Louis-sur-Loire (Indre et Loire).
The tomato conservatory is first and foremost a place of beauty and wonder, dedicated to the
diversity and lavishness of nature.
One of its top priority is to create, experiment and sensitize towards a better knowledge, preservation and enhancement of tomatoe varieties; a thousand years-old fruit of astonishing diversity.
It is also possible to admire, around the Château, a garden of over 300 varieties of Dahlias and an orchard of nearly 80 varieties of fruit trees.
In 2018, Louis-Albert de Broglie created a side project to the Conservatory: the Tomato Lab, to start listing and analyzing scientific properties of each tomato varieties of his collection. Strengthenig the scientific and innovative approach of his work, the lab participates in linking the conservatory's actions to universities and businesses needs, expressing its will to become a rallying point for all professionals working on biodiversity, innovation and sustainable development.
Second mission of the Conservatory is to educate and raise awareness around gardening and the conservation of genetic resources.
For several years, the Conservatory has been engaged in a process of transmission and education willing to reach garden visitors.
Every year, hundreds of curious people, producers, professionals of the conservation sector, chefs or scientists come to discover and study hundreds of tomato varieties of all shapes, colors and virtues. Guided tours are organized by the head gardener of the domain, Nicolas Toutain and during summer, visitors can also enjoy a tomato bar, to enhance the visual experience with a taste experience.
Every year, in October, the Conservatory organizes the Tomato Festival, bringing together around 8000 visitors. The team of the Château de la Bourdaisière manages diverse educational activities on this occasion and all over the year, for its different audiences.
In order to reach a much wider audience, Louis-Albert de Broglie has also published several books about sustainable gardening.
Nicolas Toutain is the Head Gardener, in charge of the tomato collection.
According to the National Tomato Conservatory's ambition to protect the diversity of tomatoes, Nicolas’ job is to group, identify, classify and cultivate the varieties, to take care of the gardens and to make the diversity of tomatoes visible to the greatest number.
Louis-Albert de Broglie started the collection with around 40 varieties. It was quickly enriched with many others thanks to the participation of collectors and botanical gardens from all over the world. More than ten years later, it gathers a unique selection of more than 700 non-conventional and reproducible tomato varieties.