Why New Jersey is doing tomatoes right
Theresa Viggiano and Patrick Leger
The official state vegetable of New Jersey is the tomato — and yes, we know it’s a fruit. Seems like Garden Staters don’t spend too much time in the garden after all. Eyyy, ohhh! Since 2011, First Field has been selling sauces and ketchup made from local tomatoes.
Why we chose these sauces:
Viggiano and Leger have a two-acre organic farm where they grow tomatoes, but it’s not nearly large enough to grow their entire supply. They’ve spent years developing relationships with local tomato farmers with the goal of working with them to transition to organic methods. Example: The couple recently secured a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to experiment with a rye cover crop on tomato fields at Rutgers University. They invited their growers to come and observe the study, and this year a dozen New Jersey tomato growers will implement the new method.
How do you change the American agricultural system? Step One: Earn farmers’ trust:
“We could be organic very quickly if we said, ‘We’ll buy California organic or Mexico organic,’ but I think for us it’s all about having a dialogue with farmers, and moving the needle from conventional to organic.”