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How Our Next-Gen Greenhouse Puts Home-Grown Taste Back in Tomatoes

How Our Next-Gen Greenhouse Puts Home-Grown Taste Back in Tomatoes Credit: MightyVine

MightyVine is a state-of-the-art, hydroponic tomato greenhouse that I founded in 2014 with my business partner Jim Murphy. Using next-generation growing practices, MightyVine is able to produce the most delicious, sustainable tomatoes year-round.

MightyVine was founded on the simple belief that the best tomatoes are grown closest to home. Our goal is to emulate the feeling someone has when growing their own tomatoes in the summer in their garden –  being able to touch, smell and taste the freshness of each fruit as if it were picked from your own backyard. It is a feeling that has become less and less common in the United States.

Most large-scale growers have relocated to Mexico, California and Canada to capture some of the natural resources those regions hold, namely sunlight. Companies look to grow large volumes to supply the U.S. in the most economical way. In turn, growers look to maximize their profits by growing where the sunlight is strong and the labor force is inexpensive. The goal is to ship their products across the country and low gas prices make this possible. Unfortunately, taste has been the one missing ingredient in this process. Since a tomato is 90 percent water, they do not travel well. This forces growers to pick their fruits earlier than normal to ensure the tomatoes shelf life and durability. 

MightyVine has aimed to do things a little differently. The outdoor growing season is very limited the Midwest, so we solve the problem with the use of next generation farming. We allow our tomatoes to fully ripen on the vine in our 15-acre Rochelle, Ill., greenhouse, until they are beautiful, deep red and ripe fruits with a great flavor profile. With a close proximity to the Midwest market, we can pick, pack and ship all in the same day so our customers receive our tomatoes within 24 hours of being harvested.

This picture highlights one of our very own crop workers who manage our plans on a daily basis. Our crop workers play a huge role in making sure our tomatoes are delicious. MightyVine's tomatoes grow very strong during their first eight weeks in our greenhouse before the fruit can be harvested. It takes an immense amount of work to make sure they are maintained properly during this process to ensure maximum flavor. Our crop workers spend five to six days a week in our greenhouse providing daily maintenance on our plants, including flower pruning, de-leafing and harvesting our plants to ensure the best quality of tomatoes and taste the way a tomato should taste. We strive to provide our consumers with the best tasting tomatoes and it all starts with this beginning process shown here.

Our biggest challenge is getting our retailers to offer a better tasting tomato. That may sound odd, but most retailers are used to paying rock bottom prices for terrible tomatoes. We're building a brand that is focused on high flavor, source-identified tomatoes, and that's new to buyers that have forever been buying commodity tomatoes. We're headed toward continued disruption of the commodity tomato market by building a brand in the tomato category. We're going to grow our retail and food service relationships and change consumer expectations about how good a year-round tomato can be.

Edited for clarity and brevity by Nicole Fallon.