Pete and Pam Augustyn have always been about family, and that's why, in the mid-1990s, with an ever-growing clan at home, they began looking for a business that would allow them to earn a living and spend time together as a family. After a bit of searching, their answer came in the form of a 4-H field trip to a hydroponic tomato farm.
Pete loved the idea of growing tomatoes and knew that he could build a greenhouse just like they had seen on the field trip. After further research into the feasibility of owning a farm, the Augustyns decided that hydroponic tomato farming was the perfect way to spend time with and support their family.
The couple began selling hydroponic tomatoes under the name Canopy Gardens in 1995, and as their business grew, so did their family. The Augustyns currently have seven children and three grandchildren, who have all helped out on the family farm, outside of Antigo, Wis. The 12-acre farm boasts a 31,000 sq. ft. greenhouse, in which the Augustyns grow all their crops hydroponically. The main product at Canopy Gardens is tomatoes, from Beefsteak to smaller grape and cherry varieties, even yellow, and pink tomatoes. They also sell a rare cherry tomato named "Zebrino," which has green and red stripes.
The Daily Page: What do customers have to say about your tomatoes?
Pete Augustyn: Customers at the market are talking about our beefsteak tomatoes. A comment we often hear is, "It's so nice to finally get a tomato that tastes like a tomato!" Our customers also appreciate the fact that all of our produce is pesticide free.
What's the one product you wish you grew, but don't?
If there was a product that I wish we could grow, it would be strawberries and raspberries. We love them, and if we weren't so busy already, we could grow them in the greenhouse. We've heard that it's not that hard.
Do you have a recipe to share?
Garden Fresh Salad
The recipe is: 1 bag of mixed greens 2 on-the-vine red tomatoes 2 yellow tomatoes 1 orange pepper 3 radishes 4 mini-cucumbers Fresh basil 1 cup of olive oil 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar Italian spices
Chop the tomatoes, pepper, radishes, and mini-cucumbers to taste. Toss with mixed greens and cover with fresh basil. Mix the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Italian spices together for the dressing.