Who says you can't enjoy fresh, locally-grown produce even in the middle of a Minnesota winter? Thanks to Owatonna-based Bushel Boy Farms, Twin Cities' shoppers are never without fresh, locally-grown tomatoes – not even with our long winters and shorter growing season. Bushel Boy grows sweet, ripe-on-the-vine tomatoes twelve months a year to meet the local preference for sweeter, juicier, special-to-Minnesota tomatoes.
Bushel Boy Farms owner Jay Johnson has been growing tomatoes since 1990. He says Bushel Boy's year-round production goes hand-in-hand with the growing "eat local" movement as consumers become more aware of the environmental and economic benefits, as well as the freshness and taste, of local produce.
"There's real satisfaction in eating locally-grown vegetables rather than food that has been shipped from several states away," said Johnson. "Just think about eating a tomato right off the vine, compared to one that was picked green, crated up and shipped thousands of miles – there's a big difference."
Bushel Boy Farms is happy to meet this demand by growing beefsteak, vine-on and grape tomatoes, called "Baby Boys," year round in an indoor environment that miraculously endures Minnesota's drastic temperature changes, from sub-zero January days to a middle-of-the-summer heat wave. Closely resembling the outdoor growing experience down to the bees buzzing from plant to plant to pollinate each flower, Bushel Boy's twenty acres of greenhouses provide a controlled growing environment that ensures Jay and his workers are able to yield plentiful crops of perfect tomatoes all year round.
Jay prides himself in growing "Minnesota's tomato" and enabling consumers to incorporate fresh, locally-grown tomatoes in their winter menus. When buying tomatoes at any other time of the year, he says to consider the size and buy one that is no larger than what you will use right away. Jay suggests taking note of the shape, aiming for tomatoes that are evenly plump with a vivid red color and no green showing. Skin quality should be firm and free from cracks or blemishes with a fresh tomato smell. Once home, store ripened tomatoes in an area, such as a countertop, where the temperature won't go below 55°F. Greenhouse tomatoes will keep much longer than field-grown tomatoes, up to fourteen days.
Located less than an hour from the Twin Cities, Bushel Boy Farms is uniquely situated to deliver red-ripe tomatoes fresh off the vine to Kowalski's Market within 24 hours. Bushel Boy Farms' dedication to ensuring maximum freshness and superior taste makes Bushel Boy tomatoes an essential part of our Produce Department all year long.