Backyard Farms Celebrates Landmark 10th Anniversary
MADISON, ME - Backyard Farms, grower of hydroponic tomatoes, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its first shipment this year, marking that fateful day its product went out to its first and largest customer, Hannaford. Since beginning its path towards growth in 2007, the Madison, Maine-based grower has now ramped up to 2 greenhouses, 42 acres, and 30 million pounds of cocktail, beefsteak, and TOV tomatoes.
Mainebiz was on the scene for Backyard Farms’ February anniversary, when the publication delved deeper into the company’s history, as well as its turnaround from 2013’s whitefly infestation.
The first few years of Backyard Farms were ones filled with growth. As Mainebiz reported, by the end of the company’s first year, it was already producing and shipping 17 million pounds of tomatoes from its first 24-acre greenhouse. Less than two years later, in September 2009, its second greenhouse was born. This expansion brought acreage to a total of 42 acres, which employed 175 employees.
Unfortunately, that period of rapid expansion came to a close, as July 2013 brought a whitefly infestation that forced the company to destroy every one of its 420,000 tomato plants and start fresh. This whitefly wipeout caused up to 10-week delays in deliveries to over 30 retailers across New England, including Hannaford, Shaw's, Roche Bros., Walmart, Wilson Farm, and Whole Foods.
Struggles continued, needing to find a new supplier and temporarily furlough employees, but by December 2013, the company was back up and running. At the end of that same year, all employees were rehired and the company began shipping its new crop to stores, the source reports.
"We came back from it and are profitable now," President and COO Stuart Jablon told Mainebiz. "At any one point we have about 11 million tomatoes in various stages of development." Now, the company ships 350,000 to 500,000 pounds of tomatoes are weekly.
Want to get an even more in-depth look at Backyard Farms’ state-of-the-art growing practices? Read Mainebiz’s full article by Lori Valigra here. And congrats to the company for a decade of providing quality produce!