Tomāto Tomäto joins forces with Hy-Vee
“Now our CSA members can pick up their local vegetables, bread and eggs shares inside their local Hy-Vee store then swing around and grab their other necessities like toilet paper and soap in one quick trip,” explains Jody Fritz, Tomāto Tomäto owner and operator.
Tomāto Tomäto includes both organic and conventional local growers in its CSA. Ryan Pekarek, who grows about 100 varieties of 20 different vegetable crops on 12 acres at his farm near Dwight, has been a CSA supplier with Tomāto Tomäto for the past five years. He also sells produce at the Lincoln and Seward farmers markets and runs his own 50- to 60-member CSA.
“This will be our sixth season with Jody,” says Ryan. “She is one of our two biggest accounts that we deal with, and we always come back with an empty truck after seeing her. That’s not the case on football Saturdays or if it rains at the farmers market.” According to Frank Woodward, store director at the Hy-Vee in Papillion, Nebraska, “Hy-Vee decided to partner with Tomāto Tomäto … because we feel it is a great way to support the local growers in our community.”
Tomāto Tomäto first existed as a local food retail outlet before branching into building a multi-farm CSA five years ago. During that time Jody has grown the CSA from 100 members to 1,000 members who choose a weekly vegetable share or a share with a meat, cheese or bread add-on.
As a mother, Jody wanted to make sourcing local food easier. “Our lives are busy. They just are. We try not to go all the time, but we do. So when looking at it from a consumer perspective, I just wanted to simplify the process for everyone involved,” she says.
During a trip to Kansas City a few years ago, Jody learned of a similar-style CSA that partnered with area grocery stores and was able to maintain a 2,100-member CSA. She shadowed the woman who ran it and brought the concept to Omaha.
“Everyone ends up at the grocery store anyway, so you might as well have the option to get your local food there,” says Jody. “For me, it just had to be easier on everyone to access local food. When you look at it from the consumer perspective, it just makes sense to do it like this.”
—By Summer Miller