Bells couple builds business off home-grown tomatoes - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Bells couple builds business off home-grown tomatoes

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BELLS, TX -- It's their first go at farming tomatoes but in just six months, Amelia and Ben Von Kennel are already seeing green.

"It has just been fantastic and extremely welcoming," Ben said.

The couple began building Amelia's Farm in Bells in 2011. Hundreds of tomato plants are grown inside a greenhouse. Plant food and water is pumped into a volcanic rock material at the root, allowing the plants to grow hydroponically, or without soil. The tomatoes are also pesticide-free.

"Even though we have drought issues, especially in Texas right now, we have this controlled environment that we use our well water, we use rain collection, and we have the ability to make sure there's no pests getting in," Amelia said.

Right now, there are a little more than 700 plants growing inside the greenhouse, which is half full. In July, once the plants reach their full potential, they'll be taken out, new seeds will be replanted and the process will start all over.

Ben says it takes about 110 days from the time seeds are planted to when the tomatoes are ready to be sold.

But in their first harvest, Ben says he's already had several bites from north Texas Restaurants.

"We have four in Dallas, two in McKinney," he said.

Amelia's tomatoes also for sale for $2.99/lb at the Green Market in Sherman.

Although the price may be higher than your typical tomato, for higher quality and locally grown produce, managers at the market say customers have no problem paying.

"We had some product that we would get from venders nationwide. The quality wasn't there a lot of times. They'll have some pesticide," manager Todd Brazier said. "These, they're flying. We go through at least two orders a week."