Local Heirloom Tomatoes in June?
It’s that time of year when those beautiful, beloved and tasty heirloom tomatoes start showing up on supermarket shelves. In our northern region, enjoying heirloom tomatoes in early summer may mean they might be trucked in from warmer southern states. However, with access to local providers like Wisconsin Growers Cooperative, locally grown and fully ripe heirloom tomatoes are available right now! You may be wondering how that is even possible, coming from a neighbor state that shares the same northern climate as Minnesota with short-growing seasons?
Wisconsin Growers Cooperative is a unique farming community involving 35-40 small-scale Amish farmers located in Western Wisconsin, where farming practices favor horse-drawn plows and hand tools over fossil-fueled machinery to grow their produce. They use labor-intensive methods which allow them to harvest both early and late season vegetables. It’s what sets this farming cooperative apart, making them truly unique in our northern region.
According to Al Weinrich, sales manager for Wisconsin Growers Cooperative, two farmers are currently committed to growing early-season heirloom tomatoes by planting tomato seeds indoors during December and January. Eventually, plants are transferred to greenhouses that are attached to their homes. The greenhouses are kept warm with wood stoves and are tended consistently to maintain optimal air temperatures for growing plants. Once the warmer weather of spring arrives, the sides of the greenhouses can be rolled up to let in fresh air.
The recent early crop of big and beautiful heirloom tomatoes at our co-op has arrived in a fun variety of colors, shapes and sizes.
If you are a gardener who’s patiently waiting to harvest your own heirloom tomatoes later this summer but have cravings for them now, come visit our produce department to enjoy the early local tomato abundance!
Make this tasty, Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho recipe.