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TFP Tomatoes Around Boston

The Enterprise Bay
The Enterprise Bay
As summer sets in, the Dudley Greenhouse's enterprise bay is starting to look like a lush jungle. In the enterprise bay, The Food Project grows tomatoes that are sold to restaurants and markets in the Boston area. This summer, you can find TFP's tomatoes at Evoo, Hungry Mother, Flour Bakery, Park Restaurant and Bar, Russel House Tavern, Haley House, Coppa, Toro, Henrietta's Table, Canto 6, City Feed and Supply, Blue Heron Farm, and Siena Farms. They are all making tasty tomato dishes such as Park Restaurant and Bar's roasted tomato tart and tomato confit.

All of these tomatoes are grown from 800 tomato plants in the enterprise bay of the Dudley Greenhouse. The tomatoes in the greenhouse are grafted tomatoes, meaning that they are made up of two different tomato varieties that are joined to make a plant that has greater vigor and yield. The tops of the greenhouse tomatoes are a variety called Geronimo, a large, red slicer tomato that grows well in greenhouses; the bottoms are a variety that has roots that efficiently take up nutrients from the soil.

By August, The Food Project hopes to have grown 10,000 pounds of tomatoes this year. To reach that goal, our tomatoes need a lot of care! The tomatoes are cultivated by Greenhouse Manager Danielle Andrews, with the help of TFP’s youth interns and other staff. They are irrigated with rainwater from our 3,000-gallon tanks that collect rainwater from the roof of the greenhouse. This irrigation provides about half of the water that the tomatoes need to grow.

Each week, the tomatoes are fertilized with 5,000 gallons of fish emulsion purchased from Neptune’s Harvest in Gloucester, Mass. The fertilizer is released through a mechanism called a dosatron, which injects fertilizer into the drip irrigation lines that run through each tomato bed. They are also pruned once each week. In addition, since there are no bees in the Dudley Greenhouse, the tomatoes are hand-pollinated every other day using a vibrating wand.

Finally, they are spritzed with epsom salts every other day to provide extra magnesium. A magnesium deficiency can cause tomatoes to have a blotchy appearance, and we want to grow perfect, red tomatoes for our customers. "They really are little divas," says Andrews after a long day delivering her tenderly grown tomatoes to restaurants around Boston and Cambridge.

The tomato harvest in the Dudley Greenhouse will continue through the first week of August. Please visit one of the restaurants listed above to get a taste!

For more information about the Dudley Greenhouse, please contact Community Food Coordinator Danielle Andrews.

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