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Triple Eaton Farms-954 Mt. Olive Road-Mt. Olive, MS 601-549-4485

Leon Eaton had grown tomatoes at his Hattiesburg home and liked to experiment to find better producing methods. When he discovered hydroponics growing practices he felt this was the avenue for him. Buying land on Mt. Olive Road in 2005 provided the space he needed and being a knowledgeable builder provided the labor. For the technical knowledge he attended a program in 2010 provided by the Indiana based company CropKing that produces the specialized equipment needed for the venture.

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlinght—Leon Eaton of Triple Eaton Farms harvests the product of his labor. The tomatoes are beautiful red, juicy and tasteful.

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlinght—Leon Eaton of Triple Eaton Farms harvests the product of his labor. The tomatoes are beautiful red, juicy and tasteful.

Though it seemed to passersby the facility went up slowly Eaton’s meticulous attention to detail has provided a vegetable growing plant of amazing productivity. Tomatoes are grown in a controlled environment with no soil that surpasses hothouse tomatoes for their juiciness and flavor.

Hydroponics (Greek for “water-labor”) advantages include the fact that the roots of the plant have constant access to oxygen and that the plants have access to as much or as little water as they need. Eaton’s plants are grown in neatly rowed boxes in a secure greenhouse with a Perlite medium that is a volcanic rock that has been extremely heated into very lightweight expanded glass pebbles. A computerized system controls the water and mixture of nutrients prepared and carefully checked by Eaton daily as well as the environmental temperature making adjustments when necessary to keep the plants at best growing temperature of between 65-80 degrees. The plants receive feedings every thirty minutes for precisely one minute 30 seconds and Eaton says, “Thank God for computers!”

Eaton has used bumblebees to do his plant pollinating but this year has tried hand pollination techniques that seemed to work as well and there are no chemical pesticides used on his tomatoes.

In 2013, his first year to produce and sell his crop, most went to markets in Memphis but this year his delicious red fruits can be found at Jackson and Hattiesburg restaurants and markets and for those who wish to create their on salad masterpieces can be purchased at the facility on Mt. Olive Road, or, as Eaton says, “Bring your hamburger by and we will put a slice on it.” You can even purchase some for the southern delight of fried green tomatoes.

Business hours are listed on the gate as Thursday-Saturday 8-2 but Eaton says if the gate is open come on in. The business slogan of Triple Eaton Farms is, “Come taste the difference,” and you definitely will.

Shirley Burnham / —Eaton keeps check on precise measurements of nutrients mixed with the water that keep the tomato plants eating “steak,” as he calls the right mixture.

Shirley Burnham / —Eaton keeps check on precise measurements of nutrients mixed with the water that keep the tomato plants eating “steak,” as he calls the right mixture.