Tomatoes in May: Iron Creek Farm bringing peak season faves early
Fresh! Gorgeous! Ripe tomatoes! In ... May? Yep, you heard it right — Iron Creek Farm in LaPorte, Indiana has juicy, fresh sungold tomatoes available now.
Our friends at Iron Creek know you're antsy for a summery barbecue with perfect tomatoes galore — and they're here to help you resist those California tomatoes flown all the way from the West Coast.
Tamera Mark has been an organic vegetable farmer her whole life. Iron Creek Organic is a heritage farm that’s been in her family for over 100 years. Read on to hear about how Iron Creek is making your favorite peak season tomatoes available months ahead of time.
“The sungolds right now are grown in our greenhouse; we grow them in the greenhouse from January, when we start them. Even though they’re grown in a greenhouse, they are grown in soil. They will be available now up until November. We also grow the tomatoes and the sungolds outside in the fields too later on in the season. We also have the bigger tomatoes in the greenhouse: the beefsteak and on-the-vine tomatoes. Those will be available very soon.”
“We’ve been growing tomatoes in greenhouses for probably around 40 years.”
“The greenhouse gives us a controlled growing environment. The main reason [behind growing tomatoes in greenhouses in the springtime] is to bring tomatoes to the public at an earlier date. We have less disease problems in the greenhouse. If we’re going to have a freeze, we have to cover up anything we’re growing in the field and try to save — in the greenhouse you don’t have that worry, you just keep it a little warmer. The main reason is really to have that product locally and to the consumers at an earlier date.”
“A normal, grown-outdoors tomato is not available until August [in this region]. That’s a long time to wait!”
“We do have cucumbers in the greenhouse also — regular cucumbers and persians.”
“At this time of year, we’ve started overwintering crops. We still have carrots and potatoes and onions — so people can still buy all of that locally, and it’s really very good. Some of the overwintered carrots are just as sweet and really very flavorful. All of those things are still readily available locally. We’re harvesting lettuce now too and spinach, so some of your greens you can get fresh, locally right now.”
“Overwintered crops can stay in the ground and be harvested in the following spring. Or, if you have a storage crop — things that were harvested last fall and then are stored in an exact environment for humidity and temperature — it will keep until the late winter and early spring. Some of the potatoes we won’t wash because the dirt on them actually helps preserve them, and then we wash them when we put them out for sale.”
“When you get fresh produce like the sungolds, just to be able to eat something fresh, as is — no fuss, no cooking — is what I love to do right now.”
“As far as what we’re doing here on the farm, we’re scrambling to make the new normal work to help people access fresh food locally — we’re doing deliveries and online ordering, and we’re working really hard. The farm is really beautiful right now, production is moving along beautifully, and now we’re just trying to figure out how to get everyone access to [our food].”
-Tamera Mark, Iron Creek Farm
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