A Burst of Color: Kimberly and Steven Martin’s Luscious Tomatoes
During the grey and dreary days of February, clamoring for color is a natural tendency. There is no more beautiful, delicious treat than the jewel-toned heirloom tomatoes from Kimberly and Steven Martin’s Growing Opportunities, Inc. farm in Alcalde, NM.
Kim and Steve have been growing their tomatoes hydroponically since 1999. The USDA defines hydroponics as the technique of growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil. Kim said that “hydroponics is Steve’s baby – he’s passionate about it.” Hydroponics uses less water than traditional soil-based systems and allows for faster growth and higher yields than traditional soil-based growing systems. Kim added that another benefit is that “we know exactly what nutrients the plants are receiving because we mix the micro and macro nutrients ourselves.”
The couple farms year-round in their greenhouses, producing 130,000 pounds of tomatoes on a quarter of an acre of land. They currently employ four full-time and two part-time farm workers. It seems like the perfect growing method for New Mexico, where water usage is a serious issue and the growing season is constrained by early and late frosts.
Born in Newport News, Virginia, Kim describes herself as a military brat. Eventually settling in New Mexico, Kim met Steve in 2004 and they married in 2007. While Steve grew up on a farm, Kim confessed that “I used to kill cactus – farming is the last job my family would have expected me to do. Now I love what we do. Feeding people is noble and righteous.”
Not only have the Martins been selling at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market since 2000, they also provide their fruit (yes, tomatoes are botanically classified as a fruit instead of a vegetable) to schools and senior centers, grocery stores in Los Alamos and Santa Fe, and local restaurants. Kim shared that “when customers express gratitude, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
As to the future, Kim will be taking over more of Steve’s role this year, while he works off of their farm as a greenhouse manager for a cannabis growing facility in Taos. Growing Opportunities, Inc. also plans to take the summer of 2023 off, when seasonal tomatoes from traditional small-scale farms are plentiful. In the long-term, their goals for Growing Opportunities, Inc. “is to continue to thrive and continue to feed people.” Noble goals, indeed.