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RALEIGH – For many, summer is not complete without the taste of a field-ripened tomato, sliced and placed between two pieces of bread, with a dash of salt and pepper and a helping of mayonnaise. Thanks to greenhouse technology, consumers don’t have to wait until summer to enjoy a fresh N.C. tomato sandwich.

Consumers will have a chance to taste that freshness during Greenhouse Vegetable Day on Thursday, April 16, at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh or Friday, April 24, at the Robert G. Shaw Piedmont Triad Farmers Market in Colfax. Both events will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Greenhouse technology gives consumers access to fresh produce before and after the traditional growing seasons,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “It also is vital to our state’s agricultural economy because it allows growers to extend their growing season and thereby increase their profits.”

Ryan Patterson of Patterson Greenhouses has embraced greenhouse technology on his farm in Broadway. Patterson, president of the N.C. Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association, grows tomatoes and cucumbers inside a 10,000-square-foot greenhouse. Greenhouse technology allows him to pick tomatoes from February through July.

He is experimenting with a lighting system that could allow him to extend his growing season even further. Patterson says the new system provides more light for the plants during the long winter months. With more light, Patterson was able to pick about two weeks earlier this year, and expects to see a 25 to 30 percent increase in production.

Greenhouse Vegetable Day is sponsored by the N.C. Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association and N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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