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Organic baby romaine added to Ontario greenhouse lineup

As the demand for organic produce continues to grow throughout North America, in Ontario, Canada, one grower is quietly delivering a unique item in the province. "We are the only certified organic controlled environment agriculture (CEA) grower in Ontario at this scale," says Greenbelt Organic Greens' Ian Adamson, whose partner is Steve Bamford of Fresh Advancements. "Essentially our competitors are all hydroponic and organic hydroponic are not allowed under organic standards in Canada."

Greenbelt Organic Greens began shipping wholesale greens, including arugula, kale, and spring mix, out of its 3.5-acre facility in Lynden, Ontario three years ago, though Adamson himself has been a greenhouse operator for almost 30 years.

This past January, the grower also introduced organic baby romaine lettuce which should be fully rolled out by the fall throughout Ontario. (Greenbelt Organic Greens' product is distributed throughout Ontario though it has had requests to distribute within Quebec–an idea the company is mulling over.) "We had to get it into production to see what the volumes look like and it's been quite successful for us," says Adamson, adding that while it does some foodservice distribution, the bulk of its product is destined for retail. That said, out of its greens offerings, arugula is still one-third of the company's production capacity.

Indoor growing system
What's also unique about the grower is its ability to regrow crops for a second round of production. "That effectively increased our greenhouse footprint capacity by 50 percent," says Adamson, adding that it is growing on a rotating Dutch table system "While the table system is actually the most common plant moving system in the greenhouse sector worldwide, we've developed a way to grow on that table system like mini farm fields."

Given product grows in a greenhouse under LED lights, its volumes stay steady–which is helpful given field greens production can fluctuate according to weather conditions.

That's helpful to meet that strengthening demand for organic produce. "The biggest challenge for most consumers is finding quality organic products in the produce aisle. Some companies have a better focus on it than others," says Adamson. "It's a growing sector and that has higher and higher demand that needs to be met so it's a good position to be in."

For more information:
Ian Adamson
Greenbelt Organic Greens
[email protected]