ITHACA, N.Y. – New York farmers have a new way to satisfy consumers’ hunger for something different. Phillip Griffiths, associate professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell AgriTech, has released a collection of organic grape tomato varieties that are pretty, profitable and pack a culinary punch.
The new Galaxy Suite of five grape tomato varieties offers outstanding flavor in novel shapes and colors: the yellow fingerling Starlight; the orange grape-shaped Sungrazer; the small, red, grape-shaped Comet; the marbled and striped Supernova; and the dark purple, pear-shaped Midnight Pear. They are available now from High Mowing Organic Seeds.
“These varieties are ideal for organic and conventional growers, or hobby gardeners, and will make a great contribution to the diversity and quality available for small-fruited tomato medleys,” Griffiths said. “They provide high flavor options with good shelf life and aesthetics in high-yielding plants for growers.”
Griffiths, whose breeding program seeks to diversify quality traits in fresh vegetables, started this project in response to consumer demand for more local, organic products with better flavor, color, quality and uniqueness.
By harnessing that diversity, Griffiths also created products that may connect more New York farmers to lucrative niches in markets like New York City. His Galaxy Suite combines consumer-quality traits with better yields, uniformity and firmness to stand up to transportation. The new varieties also perform well in high tunnels – greenhouses that many New York growers use to extend the short upstate growing season.
The Galaxy Suite of grape tomatoes has already sparked interest from Wegmans, which performed small field trials on their organic farm last season.
“They grew and produced well, and Phillip’s focus on developing varieties that produce high flavor, without jeopardizing productivity, really came through,” said Jess Crabtree, growing manager at the Wegmans Organic Farm & Orchard. “Our customers desire fresh, local produce that is both organically and sustainably grown, so any new varieties that are developed to produce well in the Northeast and can experience an extended growing season through high-tunnel production mean good things for New York state growers and our customers.”
“This effort is coming to fruition at the same time these markets are expanding,” Griffiths said. “It has helped us link with consumers, farm-to-market growers and people who are ultimately just interested in great food.”
For more articles out of New York, click here.