OTTUMWA — Five acres of land in Wapello County will be for growing vegetables thanks to a generous donation from a local benefactor.
Earlier this week, Wapello County Supervisors gave its seal of approval for Tenco's new subdivision, located one mile north of Ottumwa.
Tenco plans to use the site to build a four-bay hydroponic greenhouse that will be used to raise 1,400 tomatoes and lettuce. Once completed, the facility will provide paid vocational opportunities for up to 10 Tenco clients. The work will include picking, sorting, packaging and marketing vegetables.
Vegetables in a hydroponic greenhouse are grown without the use of soil and are fed purified water with nutrients. Each tomato plant can produce up to 60 pounds of product.
Bob Morrissey, Tenco marketing and development director, told supervisors Tuesday the operation will help generate income for Tenco and enhance the business' ability to serve its clients. Tomatoes picked by Tenco clients are sold locally and in a variety of retail locations.
Two years ago, Tenco board of directors decided to expand work opportunities for more than 200 individuals with disability. Their decision resulted in the development of a hydroponic greenhouse at its facility in Fairfield. In the past few years, the facility had raised more than 700 tomato plants, which included beefeaters and cherry as well as cucumbers and peppers.
Tenco is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1965 to provide opportunities for people with disabilities that will help them live independently.