Fourth generation tomato farmer honored at festival

The past year’s COVID-19 pandemic turned out to have a positive effect on Joe McNeil’s West Tennessee tomato business.

More people stayed at home to eat and then wanted to cook using farm fresh ingredients like his tomatoes, said McNeil.

McNeil, a fourth-generation tomato farmer, is the 2021 Lauderdale County Tomato Festival
Farmer of the Year. His family business is the Red, Ripe and Rotten Tomato Farm.

McNeil is an entrepreneur who also owns a car repair and towing business. He had not been involved in the family’s tomato-growing business since 2004 when the pandemic drew him back to his roots to work on the tomato farm.

The Red, Ripe and Rotten Tomato farm produces 260,000 pounds of tomatoes every year with about 13 pounds coming from each plant. The farm offers two varieties, Mountain Spring and Mountain Fresh Plus.

You can buy McNeil’s tomatoes at farmers’ markets, local grocery stores and even at his auto business. He’ll also be headed to the Tomato Festival to showcase his crop.