Blenheim farm's 'beautiful crop' of tomatoes sold off cheap as regular markets disappear

·2 min read
Tomato stand set up by Platinum Produce in Blenheim, ON.  (Platinum Produce/Facebook - image credit)
Tomato stand set up by Platinum Produce in Blenheim, ON. (Platinum Produce/Facebook - image credit)

Unable to sell thousands of tomatoes to market, a local farm in Blenheim took to social media in the hopes of not wasting the crop. And before they knew it, all the tomatoes were sold.

"We couldn't fathom throwing them in the garbage," said Bonnie Verbeek, social media operator for Platinum Producer. "We completely underestimated the power of social media."

Verbeek's husband, Tim, co-owns Platinum Producer, which grows tomatoes and sweet bell peppers.

Due to a decreased demand in locally grown tomatoes — a combination of shops purchasing cheaper crop from Mexico and restaurants not needing as much supply as a result of the lockdown — Verbeek said they had 15 skids of tomatoes that were at risk of rotting away.

Each skid has 80 flats of tomatoes.

Verbeek said they were overwhelmed with the amount of support and people who showed up to buy local.
Verbeek said they were overwhelmed with the amount of support and people who showed up to buy local.(Platinum Produce/Facebook)

"It's become this perfectly awful storm that you know with with farming you can't put a pause on a crop we keep growing and it's kind of salt in the wound because we have this amazing, beautiful crop, of course all of our input costs and then we have these beautiful tomatoes with nowhere to go," she said.

So instead, Verbeek said they decided to advertise the flats at $5 each. Though the price-tag puts the company at a loss, she said they had to get the tomatoes sold.

"We were absolutely blown away by the turnout yesterday," she said. "We had to bring two people from the warehouse and two of our workers and we still had lineups, it was unbelievable ... but we had people driving from everywhere so I mean we had people driving from the other side of Toronto to take back and donate to their community."

Line up for tomatoes at Platinum Produce in Blenheim.
Line up for tomatoes at Platinum Produce in Blenheim.(Platinum Produce/Facebook)

She said lots of people were buying tomatoes for local food shelters and charitable organizations.

By the end, Verbeek said they sold 21 skids, more than they had intended.

At this time, she said they'll have more crop ready in the coming days that likely won't sell to market so they're planning on putting more out at $10.

Unfortunately, Verbeek said they've been in this position before where they can't sell their produce as places are importing crop from outside the country at a cheaper cost.

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