Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jen Rodehaver
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Homegrown tomatoes

 

August 19, 2017

Courtesy Photo Mike Dooley takes his tomatoes to the Niwot Market.

“Homegrown tomatoes home grown tomatoes

Wha’d life be without homegrown tomatoes

Only two things money can’t buy

That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes”

— By Guy Clark, singer/songwriter 1983

Mike Dooley grew up in a small town in New Jersey and still remembers the taste of his mother’s garden tomatoes. He also remembers a period of time when most grocery stores offered a pale, tasteless substitute.

Fortunately for tomato aficionados, Dooley has spent the last 11 years producing delicious nutrition-packed tomatoes that are easily acquired at stores and restaurants in the neighborhood. He supplies Niwot Market, 1914 House, and Treppedas locally, as well as Whole Foods Market countywide.

Dooley said he is able to meet the demand for his popular products by renting a 12,000 square-foot greenhouse space in Firestone where energy and water sources are cost effective. He uses a variety of cherry and heirloom seeds each year to cull the best for flavor and production. He has access to the choicest vegetable seeds through a horticulture company with which he partners, often taking him to greenhouses and agribusinesses throughout the western states and Canada.

With help from his wife Sharon, Dooley starts seeds in January at their Niwot home. As spring temperatures warm up, the 3,000 young plants are transferred to the greenhouse where tomatoes are harvested ripe from April through November. Although their three children are now adults busy with their own careers, all have put in hours with the family business.

When not wrangling beefsteaks, the Dooleys enjoy traveling to Sharon’s native Manitoba. The couple was married 25 years ago on the border of the two countries on Canada Day. They met in Saudi Arabia where Mike first developed an interest in greenhouse gardens. Sharon is currently an occupational therapist with the Boulder Valley School District.

The Dooleys moved their family to Niwot from Rifle, Colorado, 14 years ago and haven’t looked back. They love the friendly, small town feel of Niwot as well as the access to hiking and biking along the Front Range. Mike remarked, “Even something as simple as taking the dog for a walk is such a pleasure here.”

Successful professionals and proud parents of Niwot High School graduates, the Dooleys look for ways to give back to their community. Active members of the Niwot Community Association, the couple also supports Longmont’s Our Center with in-kind donations of produce. Mike and Sharon Dooley have indeed found the two things that money can’t buy.

 

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