Introducing the Tomato Independence Project

November 12, 2012

The Treasure Valley Food Coalition is proud to announce our upcoming project for 2013-2014, the Tomato Independence Project (TIP).

After the Year of Idaho Food, we wanted to find a tangible way for people to participate in growing the local food economy in the Treasure Valley. When researching what it will take to meet our goal of having 20% of our food consumption be local by 2020, we found that the average American eats over 90 pounds of tomatoes per year. That’s a lot of tomatoes! And nothing tastes better than a tomato fresh from the garden in the summer, and nothing worse than a rock hard tomato in January…

We’ve decided to make it our goal to have as many people as possible grow and/or eat local, fresh tomatoes in 2013. To start things off, we’re going to partner with local nurseries to provide “TIP kits” to anyone who wants to participate. These kits will contain things like seeds, growing instructions, the TIP logo, etc. Please check back in December for a list of participating retailers. We also hope to have taste testing events, seminars on caring for your plants, and local restaurants featuring local tomatoes.

How to Participate:

Want to join us in ending the tyranny of tasteless tomatoes? Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Follow TIP on Facebook and Twitter
  2. Find a TIP kit a a participating retailer
  3. Sign up for a seed starting class at a participating nursery
  4. Plant your plants and tell us about your progress over the summer

Not into growing things, or don’t have room? You can still participate!

  1. Eat at a participating local restaurant, and order something with tomatoes
  2. Buy tomatoes at your local farmer’s market
  3. Ask your local supermarket to carry local tomatoes when they are in season
  4. Try a kind of tomato you’ve never had before


16 Responses to Introducing the Tomato Independence Project

  1. Patty Patton
    November 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I am so excited about this project. When I was much younger and lived in this growing zone I had a huge garden. I grew, canned and froze many many veggies. It was hard being in Boise County, Lowman and Garden Valley to re-create that experience. Back in the Treasure Valley at 61, living single (renting a home) and with fibromyalgia is almost impossible to bring the experiences back to fruition. But I have big pots that I want to do to tomatoes, with heritage seeds, and have a small raised garden spot to do a few other things. I especially want to start growing my own herbs. Thank you for your website. As a native Idahoan I truly want to support the grow local concept. I do receive the Food News updates already on my Facebook Page…looking forward to the tomato project and definetly want to get a TIP packet. Many best wishes…Patty

  2. Terri Meredith
    December 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    WOW! I didn’t know you existed until I read Edward’s Greenhouse’s news letter. I start my tomatoes from seed each spring and end up with a lot of tomato plants because I can’t kill the extra seedlings. I give quite a few away, as well. I have an abundance of beautiful, re, ripe tomatoes in the summer and give them away to anyone who will take them. I wasn’t sure restaurants could take home grown tomatoes and I am glad to find out they must be able to. Are there any special criteria to meet to be able to sell tomatoes to restaurants? DOWN WITH TASTELESS TOMATOES!!!!!

  3. Scott Cowen
    December 14, 2012 at 8:26 am


    I teach at Lowell Scott Middle School in Meridian District.

    We have a greenhouse, but need sponsorship by an organization such as yours to get a green light to start a communituy garden. We have boxes built and know where to get soil. We have aabout 6-10 families that will mow/trim around boxes and tend them.

    If you can help please call my cell phone at 440-4945

    • Janie Burns
      December 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      You might contact the Boise Urban Garden School at They would be the best group to help with community gardens, especially those involving young people.

  4. Kathy Colbert
    December 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I love the idea of tasty and local tomatoes. I have very limited space and use large pots for most of my tomatoes, and so hope some of the seed varieties will be suitable for that. We have tried many new varieties every year and have found Heirloom varieties that will work in a smaller spaces. I am still hoping to find a Green Grape variety with good flavor.

  5. G R Caraway
    December 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I think this program for growing good tomatoes is a grand idea !!

    I would like to know were to get seeds.

    • Janie Burns
      January 2, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      The Tomato Independence Project is about several things. Yes, it is about growing good tomatoes here. It is also about NOT buying tasteless tomatoes. We’ve acquired an expensive habit of having a tomato slice on the plate or in the salad bar every day of the year—even if the tomatoes are terrible.

      In 2013, we are encouraging folks who haven’t grown tomatoes before to try one (or more) of four different varieties: SunGold cherry tomato, Early Girl reliable slicer, Mortgage Lifter heirloom slider, and Tumbling Tom patio tomato. Those are included in the TIP kit available at these Boise nurseries: Far West, Franz Witte, Edwards, and North End Organic.

      But any nursery should have a good selection of tomato seeds and may offer a variety of tomato plants later in the spring. Staff members are usually tomato growers themselves and can direct you to a variety that is reliable for this area. You might also want to check out the many seed catalogs that offer a wide range of tomatoes. Your local University of Idaho extension office is a wealth of information.

      Check back at this webpage as we add local resources and hints on starting and growing tomatoes. Good luck.

  6. December 31, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Tasty, right-off-the-vine tomatoes are so much better than any store-bought tomato, and the joy of growing them makes them taste even better, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Treasure Valley is high desert and there isn’t enough rain to grow tomatoes. Every delicious juicy tomato comes to us courtesy of the Boise River and its companion aquifer. Three large dams dissect the river blocking fish passage and water flow and inundating miles of river. If you use drinking water to grow your tomatoes, your tomatoes have a high energy and carbon footprint too. Water wisely and thank the river and fish for sharing their water with you.

  7. Barbara English
    January 10, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Please add me to your mailing list! Looking forward to the Tomato project….

  8. Blake Morris
    February 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Mrs. Hutchinson is my teacher.

  9. faye collier
    June 21, 2013 at 10:48 am

    would love to know more about this project!

  10. Christian Carley
    July 21, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    I am growing some san marsanos and they are ripening and they’re like tiny, like grape tomato size, they taste amazing but I’d prefer a full sized tomato, any suggestions?

    • Janie Burns
      August 7, 2013 at 7:28 am

      There are many great slicing tomato varieties. A reliable source to learn about good ones are to contact your local University of Idaho extension office. The extension educators and master gardeners there can share their favorites.

  11. charlotte ferguson
    September 10, 2013 at 8:06 am

    i really enjoyed your tomato class i went to earlier this year. and the get together at edwards greenhouse i think it was jan or feb. of this year. all i know is there was snow on the ground, and it was so refreshing to go in a warm greenhouse and have home made tomato soup. i hope i get to go to the next tomato thing this up coming winter. i didn’t get any seeds from the seed class i went to because i had to leave early, so i baught local plant and they did very good. i’ve been so sick this year and it really lifts my spirits when i can have a home grown tomato from my own garden. keep up the good work. i’m sure with all of us working together we will meet all our goals for good tomatoes. God Bless charlotte ferguson

  12. November 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    So thrilled to be a part of the Tomato Independence Project — and now you can fuel its success by buying a cool t-shirt online. Great holiday gift — check it out @

  13. Joan McKeegan
    March 16, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I am doing my part . I sell tomato plants and vegetables. Look for my add on craigs list . TomatoLady in Boise

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