Gary Lazarski, the CEO of MightyVine, has a few words for purists who insist that the only decent vegetables are those with their roots in soil: “The best tomatoes are grown close to home, period.”
The company’s new hydroponic farm in Rochelle, Illinois, 80 miles west of Chicago, aims to supply fresh local tomatoes to residents of the Windy City, plus Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, year-round. Both varieties on offer—‘Roterno’ slicing tomatoes (above) and ‘Robinio’ cherries—were chosen for robust flavor, not the ability to withstand cross-country transit.
Even better, the tomatoes will have been pollinated by on-site bees and will have used 90 percent less water than their dirt-cultivated kin. As for the taste: Consider MightyVine’s clientele, which includes Midwestern Whole Foods stores and Frontera Grill’s Rick Bayless. “I haven’t been so excited about a local product in a long time,” Bayless says.