Since 2012 ÖMKi (Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture)`s tomato onfarm program has carried out research in cooperation with organic producers with the goal of developing production technology and gastronomic evaluation in several regions of the country. This year`s event was aimed at showcasing the experiences of organic tomato producers as well as their technological practices and the horticultural experiments of the two farms giving home to the event.
A further goal was to share and have a critical debate around the practice-oriented research that we have carried out on the past three years on the production of heirloom varieties. This summer on the morning of July 21st we visited the organic nursery of Aron Peto and Renata Bangha, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) project located in Szigetmonostor. This was followed by an afternoon visit, including lunch, to the Háromkaptár Organic Garden in nearby Tahitótfalu.
In the course of the day`s events Barbara Mirek greeted the participants and gave a brief introduction to the Institute`s heirloom tomato research including its up-to-date history, results and cooperations. She introduced the Institute´s newest publication, a technical manual entitled ‘Organic Tomato Production,’ the result of two years of professional labor.
Following this, Aron Peto introduced participants to his growing facility, including giving an explanation of the principles and practical operation of a CSA. The facility’s operations are pre-financed by the local community, and the produce is distributed exclusively to the local community on a weekly basis. More on this type of organization can be read in our Hungarian publication, ‘Community Supported Agriculture.’
Aron Peto gave a detailed presentation on his growing practices, including fertilization, seed acquisition, seedling cultivation and plant maintenance. In the course of production there the fertilization is done using manure from a local stable, later supplemented with granulated manure at the seedling stage. From the flowering stage liquid fertilizer is distributed using a drip irrigation system.
As far as tomato production is concerned, the seeds taken from the fruits are planted in a heated planter and then planted in mid-April in an unheated greenhouse. In terms of care of the plants the greatest difficulties stem from the heirloom plants’ constant leafing and pruning.The backbone of plant protection lies in consistent use of copper and sulfur.
Aron Peto explained the demands and expectations of his tomato-buying customers. He emphasized that tomatoes are one of the most important products in agriculture, one about which everyone has strong opinions, demands and expectations. The members of the local community really like variety in their tomatoes and their favorites tend to be the large-sized heirloom varieties. They tend not to prefer the traditional round, medium-sized, hard varieties.
In the course of viewing the growing operation participants also got to see the Institute’s experimental heirloom production, which is being carried out under the aegis of the Corvinus University of Budapest Faculty of Horticulture Department of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Systems as well as the Szent Istvan University MKK Institute of Plant protection and the work of researcher and Ph.D candidate Daniel Reiter.
After all of these events, Dr. Zoltan Pap of Corvinus University’s Faculty of Horticulture, Department of Vegetable and Fungi Production, shared some of the detailed results of research carried out as part of a postdoctoral fellowship awarded by the Institute in the area of fertilization of medicinal herbal plants. He gave further input on the importance of foundational fertilization as well as topdressing, emphasizing that in organic production the fertilization strategy must be determined always by the soil conditions, the plant`s needs and the nature of the selected technology (extensive vs. intensive, potted vs. field production).
Lunch was a delicious vegetarian affair catered by the Háromkaptár organic production facility, after which Daniella Vukovich showed visitors the growing facility, explained the company`s history, and displayed the results of joint research on heirloom varieties carried out by the Institute and the universities.