County Ag Report - One Tomato Project

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 2:16 PM EDT
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Aroostook County is known as the Garden of Maine, in fact, that’s what WAGM’s callsign stands for, and one project by the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension hopes to inspire others to become gardeners in their own right.

Brian Bouchard learned more about the One Tomato Project, and it’s the subject of this week’s County Ag Report.

“This is our third year participating fully in the One Tomato Project, and the whole project is about encouraging people to start gardening at any level. Even if it’s one tomato, one plant, it’s a beginning.”

Lisa Fishman of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension explains the premise of the One Tomato Project, where, given a cherry tomato seedling and a set of instructions, the Cooperative extension hopes to get local residents interested in gardening.

“Even if it’s just one plant that you grow, it gets people gardening, it gets them hooked on a hobby and gets them growing food they can eat. And a lot of the varieties that we have chosen, that Dr. Neil Thompson chose for us really are plentiful, so you end up with a really great tasting product at the end, lots of it!” says Fishman.

“So with these cherry tomatoes and the greenhouses at UMFK we hope to show people that they can grow their own food at whatever scale they have available to them.”

Dr. Neil Thompson, Forestry Professor for University of Maine at Fort Kent who also maintains the school’s greenhouses went on to explain that they are giving away two different varieties of tomato as part of the project, Sungold and Sweet Aperitif. Having never grown Tomatoes myself, I asked Dr. Thompson for some advice.

“Take one from us, take an information sheet from cooperative extension, they have instructions on what to do with it. But, you’re going to be burying as much of this stem as you can, you see the root nodules are already forming on this stem, this plant will shoot out roots all along the length of that stem so if this is underground, you’ll be getting much more roots out of this plant, a much stronger plant, and less blowing in the wind, so it will be stronger in every regard.” says Thompson.

All in all, The cooperative extension gave away 100 tomato seedlings as part of the project. In the spirit of the One Tomato Project, I decided to try my hand at developing my own green thumb. My brother, and fellow WAGM Reporter Corey Bouchard, also wanted to give it a shot, and so The Cooperative extension issued us a challenge. Which Bouchard Brother can grow the better tomato plant?

“It feels wonderful to see these all going to new homes. You can grow your own food at home, good tasty food that can add value to your summer.” says Thompson.

Well, armed with a Tomato plant, I plan on giving one to my brother Corey, and growing one myself, and following these instructions I guess we’ll see which one grows the best plant.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8