Gone are the days of avoiding all your favorite tomato-rich dishes, thanks to Backyard Farms, the year-round greenhouse growers.
For foodies, the saddest thing about summer’s end is having to part with favorite seasonal produce, namely tomatoes. But Backyard Farms was founded with a mission to change just that—by New Englanders who were frustrated with the lack of fresh tomatoes in the winter. They saw an opportunity to use greenhouse technology to bring year-round, locally grown produce to the northeastern states.
In the winter, when other greenhouse growers shut down for the season and source tomatoes from other countries, Backyard Farms turns on their grow lights, fires up their furnaces, and keeps on growing.
To ensure a constant supply of tomatoes throughout the year, their process involves removing old plants (that bear fruit every 8 weeks for up to 48 weeks) and introducing baby plants into the greenhouse. This is called interplanting and is done once or twice a year to avoid production gaps that would otherwise happen while the baby plants are growing. This is an intricate, labor-intensive process that most of their competitors are unwilling to do, but Backyard Farms makes it a priority so that when their customers buy a box of tomatoes or a tomato with their sticker on it, they know it came from their 42-acre greenhouse in Madison, Maine, and not across the world.
What’s even more unique is that Backyard Farms works off a personal gardener system, which means each crop care worker is assigned ten rows of plants at a time and is able to earn bonuses based on the health and productivity of their crop. This type of system instills a sense of pride and personal accountability that’s beneficial to the worker, the farm, and the customer, who gets the freshest, best-tasting produce. Additionally, Backyard Farms only picks tomatoes that are fully ripe and ships them only to stores within a 12-hour drive of the greenhouse.
When we heard about these “summer-tasting” tomatoes that grew during frigid northeast winters, we had to give them a try. That was in 2012 and ever since we’ve been boxing up Backyard Farms’ three tomato varieties—tomato on the vine, Beefsteak, and cocktail. It’s their passion for quality and freshness that we love bringing to our urban, tomato-loving customers.
Shop Backyard Farms Tomatoes on the Vine here.
- Meet the Producer: Ito En
- Meet the Farmer: Gail Hepworth of Hepworth Farms
- Meet Our Farmers: Handsome Brook Farm