Both Tanya and Steve have a history in large scale agriculture, but wanted to start their own farm and learn to live sustainably off their own land. Everyone said they couldn't do it, but on just 4-1/2 acres, they've not only grown year-round tomatoes, but have built a very successful business in the process. You can now find Millican Produce tomatoes at our local Farmers' Market, at both the Bryan and College Station Krogers, the Farm Patch, and several local restaurants (including my personal favorite, The Village Cafe).
Following a warm welcome and introduction to the history of the farm, we received the grand tour of the greenhouse, home to 1,000 tomato plants (and a few eggplant and peppers). The tomatoes are grown hydroponically, in other words, rather than being planted into the ground, they are planted in sacks of cocoanut coir and receive their nutrients through the supplemented water supply. Each plant is hand pollinated by a battery powered wand and kept warmed or cooled (depending on the temps outside) at around 64 degrees with the help of fans and a wood burning stove. Even more fascinating is how each tomato plant is mounted on a reel. When the plant gets too tall, it is lowered by turning the reel and the vine gathers at the base of the plant where it's easy to pick all those vine-ripened tomatoes. Ingenious!
Back outside the greenhouse into cooler temperatures, Steve gave a fascinating demonstration on how they graft both the tomato and watermelon plants. Then the kids had the opportunity to plant their own seeds in take home containers to start their own beautiful gardens, while parents could head back into the greenhouse to pick and take home some of those gorgeous tomatoes. I do believe just about everyone went home with a little something extra.
Success for Millican Produce doesn't stop here. They're talking about leasing an additional 20 acres in an effort to start their own CSA. With any luck, it'll be up and running this fall. In the meantime, immediate plans include expanding the current greenhouse in both directions and adding 3 more to the South of the current greenhouse. Tanya and Steve, if you grow them, we'll eat them! Thanks for a great day and best wishes for a very productive future!