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Agness tomatoes outsell the imports

July 18, 2009

There’s nothing like an Agness tomato.

After eating them for 35 years, Janeice Hamilton should know.

The produce manager for McKay’s No. 11 in Gold Beach, Hamilton said she buys tomatoes for her store from the Johnston Homestead, a fourth generation farm up the Illinois River in Agness, because “they’re so sweet and so good.”

The beefsteak-style tomatoes aren’t pretty and they’re only available between August and September, but Hamilton said customers know they’re worth the wait. The store purchases between 1,500 and 1,700 pounds from the family farm every year.

“I’ve already had people asking for them. … because they’re the best. As far as flavor goes, there’s nothing better than the flavor of their tomatoes,” Hamilton said.

“I could sell 30 cases in one day if it’s busy,” Hamilton said.

The store does carry some berries from Pistol River and Port Orford, but other local produce is pretty limited because they’re not often aesthetically pleasing.

“That’s kind of where the produce business is going these days. Customers want something that looks nice. That’s going to be there first impulse,” Hamilton said. “With Agness tomatoes, … they sell themselves whether they’re pretty or ugly.”

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