january locavores

welcome to millican farms
welcome to millican farms

on sunday, the brazos locavores visited tanya miller and steve king of millican farms, formerly known as millican produce.  they supply greenhouse-grown tomatoes to the brazos valley farmers’ market, several local grocery stores and many of the finer restaurants in town.

steve and tanya give us the background on their farm

farming is in steve and tanya’s blood; both grew up in families that farmed, which naturally encouraged them to seek plant-oriented careers.  about six years ago they decided to construct their own greenhouses for off-season tomato production, a niche market that until then did not exist in the brazos valley.

january in the greenhouse

1000 indeterminate (vine type) tomato plants greeted us as we walked into the 6000 square foot greenhouse for a tour.  each is planted in a five gallon coconut coir filled polypropylene bag that is connected to the watering and fertilization system.  the trellising is particularly interesting as each plant is wound around a polypropylene spool that hangs from the greenhouse “rafters.”  as the plants grow up, the strings and attached tomato plants are lowered for ease of harvest.  simultaneously, the plant suckers are pruned and flower clusters pollinated by hand.  using this method, they can harvest an average yield of 22-25 pounds of fruit per plant.  that’s a lot of tomatoes!

tomatoes are grown in coconut coir filled bags
the tomato fairy
tanya demonstrates her growing techniques

millican farms produces beefsteak or dutch type tomatoes, and now by popular demand are growing grape, cherry and roma type tomatoes.  you can’t find prettier tomatoes than these:

beefsteak or dutch tomatoes ripen on the vine

steve and tanya discussed their methods of heating the greenhouse (propane and wood), watering (reverse-osmosis to filter out salts), fertilizing and pest management.  while they aren’t certified organic, they try to utilize as many organic techniques as they can.

yellow sticky cards indicate pest levels
millican farms’ field-grown produce

millican farms also produces lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, bell peppers, melons, herbs and eggs.  at the end of the tour, steve and tanya had an exciting announcement: in april, they are launching their inaugural csa (community supported agriculture), in which 25 members will pay for and receive 12 weeks of produce from the farm.  see their website for more information.  but don’t worry, they’ll still be selling their beautiful produce at the weekly farmers’ markets and local grocery stores.

farm fresh produce for sale

a big thanks to tanya and steve for hosting a record turnout of 50 locavores on a beautiful january day!

tomatoes in january - go texan

8 thoughts on “january locavores

  1. Yay for beautiful Texas tomatoes! I’ve been reading about that trellising technique recently and it was great to see it in action.
    miss you!

    • are you planning on growing greenhouse tomatoes in your farming future…? i look forward to hearing about your plans…! let’s catch up soon.

    • yes… and since it was 75 degrees that day, I had to pinch myself to remember that it was january…!

    • you sure could! but since squirrels throw acorns about, carefully select your choice of roofing material… glass might break, aluminum sounds like Plinko and polycarb may prove tasty to the little guys… dilemma.

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