In the fall of 2014, Nature Fresh Farms opened its first greenhouse outside of Canada, in the US state of Ohio. Various varieties of tomatoes are grown in the 18 hectare greenhouse.
Now, eight years later, another 18 hectares are being expanded, which will be used exclusively for strawberry cultivation. “We began researching and testing greenhouse strawberry cultivation in 2019,” said Matt Quiring, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nature Fresh Farms. The company harvested its first strawberries in 2020 and currently grows 10 hectares of conventional strawberries in Ontario, Canada.
What drives expansion?
The Ohio expansion brings the company’s strawberry acreage to 28 hectares. “Expansion is driven by consumers attracted to a great-tasting strawberry that we can grow in a greenhouse,” Quiring said. “Great taste and quality is the best recipe for success.”
Additionally, outdoor growers often face challenging weather or water shortages, disrupting supply to retailers. “Our retail partners ask for better taste and security of supply. This is guaranteed by greenhouse cultivation,” Quiring adds. Looking at the data, he sees a huge opportunity to increase sales through supply availability.
At the moment, Nature Fresh strawberries are traditionally grown, but the new 18-hectare greenhouse will be fully dedicated to the cultivation of *SDA-organic strawberries. “While greenhouse strawberry production continues to increase each year, no one else in North America currently grows organic strawberries in a greenhouse,” Quiring said. “We feel we are well-positioned to meet a demand that no one else can meet. Investing in organic greenhouse cultivation gives us the opportunity to lead the category.” Nature Fresh Farms anticipates high demand for premium, locally grown strawberries that offer greater freshness due to their proximity to the market.
The new 18-hectare facility will be organic and FairTrade certified. “Not only do these strawberries provide consumer value as an organic product, FairTrade strawberries also fit our ‘Kinder Future’ vision.”
Harvest of the greenhouse’s organic strawberries will begin this fall, and the Ohio greenhouse will continue to serve retail partners across North America.
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