CHICAGO (CBS) — Salad and pasta, anyone?
MightyVine, a massive local greenhouse, uses state-of-the-art farming practices and claims to produce the “most delicious, sustainable tomatoes year-round.” Founder and CEO Gary Lazarski has had a passion for quality local foods from an early age. He says his grandmother’s homegrown apple pies and homemade smoked sausage taught him to appreciate the value of goods crafted close to home.
Lazarski says he got into the tomato business for one reason: “The tomatoes in Chicago taste terrible.”
The reason for that, Lazarski says, is due to transporting tomatoes from farms thousands of miles away. His solution is quite simple: “We believe the best tomatoes are grown close to home.”
Lazarski is referring to hydroponic greenhouse-grown tomatoes, to be exact. This is a method perfected by the Dutch that allows planting and harvesting year-round.
“What we haven’t seen through our long winters is bright, fresh produce and that’s the niche we’re trying to fill,” Lazarski said. “By lighting and heating the greenhouse in winter, we are able to bring our customers mid-summer tomatoes year-round.”
MightyVine has grown so fast that in three years it’s doubled the size of its glasshouse, which is a 15-acre structure located just outside Chicago in Rochelle. Nearly 30-feet high and covering over 14 football fields, the glasshouse uses diffused glass and radiated heat to control the tomatoes’ temperature.
You can find MightyVine tomatoes at Whole Foods, Sam’s Club, Jewel-Osco, Hy-Vee, Local Foods and Sendik’s Food Market. They are also served in restaurants in three states.
“Rick Bayless has been a great supporter from day one.”
MightyVine is laser-focused on tomatoes for now, although Lazarski says he’s open to production of other veggies.