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Canadian lettuce grower Vegpro builds first greenhouse

Canadian company Vegpro International announced a $55 million investment for the construction of its first greenhouse complex, as well as packing lines within the complex, in Sherrington, Montérégie. Covering four hectares (10 acres), this greenhouse complex will allow the company to produce lettuce year-round in Quebec, and therefore remain close to Quebec consumers even during the coldest months. They expect to open the first greenhouse during the winter of 2022, with sales starting soon thereafter. This project will enable the production of over 100,000 pounds (45,000 kg) of lettuce per week.

Environmental footprint
Vegpro is one of the largest vegetable producers in Canada. Specialized in the washing and packaging of baby lettuces, they also sell a wide range of vegetables grown on our own land. With fields  in Quebec and Florida, they provide their customers throughout the year. The company is known for their Fresh Attitude brand lettuce, sold at over 2,500 retail stores in Canada.

“With this investment, Vegpro will reduce its environmental footprint on different levels: less transportation of lettuce from our winter production site in Florida for products destined for Eastern Canada, a reduced use of water and fossil energy, as well as the elimination of pesticides”, declared Gerry Van Winden, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vegpro International. “We make every effort to reduce the repercussions our activities have on the environment, and the construction of a greenhouse complex is another gesture that demonstrates our desire to be an environmentally responsible company.”

World leader
“The project will also allow Vegpro to bring to market a new range of ‘teens’-type lettuces, which are larger and crispier than baby lettuce”, added Luc Prévost, Executive Vice-President of Sales & Marketing at Vegpro International. “This Canadian-developed technology can be used not only at Vegpro’s packing site in Sherrington, Quebec, but also at the Coldstream site in British Columbia. This project will make Canada a world leader in teen lettuce farming.”

The production system retained for this project will be compatible with a sustainable agriculture approach. Among its main attributes, it provides for the elimination of pesticides and the limited use of water and growth substrates, as well as their recycling. Water consumption will thereby be reduced by 90% in comparison to field production. Minimal use of fossil energy is also planned, thanks to the use of LED lighting and geothermal energy. The system optimizes the use of water, light, space, and nutrients, making it a modern, viable and sustainable method of farming.

Challenges in Quebec
Greenhouse production is of itself a challenge in Quebec, since energy consumption is high during the process. The new greenhouse complex will allow for a significant reduction in GHG emissions, thanks to the use of mobile panel technology, the LED lighting system, and the installation of high-performance heat pumps using groundwater for greenhouse heating and cooling

Part of the heating needs that can’t be provided by the heat pumps will be obtained through the recovery of residual heat emanating from the production of CO2 for the carbon enrichment of crops. In the end, the greenhouse will consume a negligible amount of natural gas. As a result, Vegpro estimates that the carbon footprint will be neutral.

For Vegpro, this is the first phase of this unique project in the country. Two years after Phase 1 goes into service, another greenhouse with the same dimensions will double the production area. The total investment will then reach over $100 million.

For more information:
Vegpro International 

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