MADISON — Backyard Farms is growing tomatoes and growing its operation as well.

The producer of greenhouse tomatoes plans a new research and development building for use in testing new tomato varieties and growing techniques, company spokeswoman Melissa Doyle said Monday.

The likely expansion, expected to be complete by the end of this year, means the company will hire several more people, adding to its work force of about 200.

In all, the development will encompass 33,550 square feet – about three-quarters of an acre on the company’s property on River Road. The greenhouse portion of the research building will total 15,200 square feet, and there will be an attached 4,800-square-foot office building, according to a legal notice filed Monday.

Plans also include a driveway off River Road and a parking and loading area.

Having more space to grow tomato varieties and test various growing methods “will help us continue to provide the top quality tomatoes that we do,” Doyle said.

“Certainly, the town’s enthused about the anticipated expansion,” said Town Manager Dana Berry. “It’s an excellent indication that they are successful.”

The tomatoes grown in the research building won’t be sold, Doyle said, but the testing done there might produce types of tomatoes that could grow in the company’s much larger greenhouses and then be distributed to stores across New England.

The site now has two greenhouses, one covering 24 acres and the other covering 18 acres. Within each building are offices, and attached to them are pack-house facilities.

Backyard Farms does not release information about how many pounds of tomatoes it grows per year, Doyle said, but the company sells everything it grows.

The company is seeking a permit for the project and soon will file an application with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Erin Rhoda can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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