Bored with working from home and bummed out by the quality of supermarket tomatoes (“tasteless travesties”), LaGrange Park resident Bob Zeni started growing tomato plants in his basement. He was good at it, and with more than he could use, he gave them to neighbors. Word of mouth grew and he started selling them. He outgrew his basement and added some popup greenhouses in his yard. This year, in partnership with the non-profit Gardeneers, Zeni, “Chicago Tomato Man,” has grown over 4,000 plants in large greenhouses and today (Monday, 5/9), the last of them go on sale at www.chicagotomatoman.com.
What started as a basement hobby has turned into a much-anticipated yearly sale of tomato plants.