I went to my first tomato farm Saturday and met someone I won’t soon forget.
Stan “The Mater Man” Witt is as colorful as his red produce.
When a friend and I visited his business in Langley, it was as if we’d walked into an Andy Griffith episode. Shoes and socks pulled off, Stan and his wife, Debbie, sat on a wooden deck at water’s edge, dipping their feet into a fish pond. If time was marching on, it was doing so at half step.
For Stan, growing “maters” is more than a passion. It is a science.
He told us of the precise irrigation schedule and how his compost of hay and cow manure, mixed just so, is a recipe for success.
Stan sold a ton of tomatoes last year and, by ton, he means 2,000 pounds. He tracks what he sells on a scale in the tomato room, which also features nearly softball-sized sweet onions. His record, by the way, for an onion is three pounds.
“I like to see how big I can grow stuff,” he says.
Stan’s been gardening by decades. His enterprise started with a wooden deck and grew when his wife needed a place besides the great outdoors to use the restroom. Now, produce is laid on tables in another room that has been added. When we came upon them Saturday, the couple was plotting another expansion on a sheet of paper.
His place, which also features two spring-fed fish ponds, is tidy and he is known by reputation, which apparently reaches well beyond Oklahoma’s borders.
He recently was visited by a chef from the East Coast. The man, touting the taste of New Jersey tomatoes, only bought two pounds. Stan knew the “yankee,” as he called him, was making a mistake.
“People who buy my tomatoes usually come back,” he told him.
The guy returned the following day.
As he peered in the distance at his 125 plants, Stan mentioned that the peak time for tomatoes is right around the corner. The sadness in his voice was palpable.
“You wait all year for tomato season,” he said. “Before you know it, it’s already gone.”