Courtesy Legend ProduceGrower Willem Doleman (left) shows results of early trials at the Legend Produce greenhouse to the company’s food safety director Kristen Meisel and quality assurance director Jesus “Chuy” Lopez.A new source for greenhouse vegetables is expected this spring in Arizona as Legend Distributing starts harvesting at its new growing operation in Phoenix.
Rick Crispo, partner in the Glendale, Ariz.-based company, said the inaugural harvest likely will be in March. All produce from the greenhouse will be marketed under the Four Peaks brand that Legend recently launched.
“Our intention is to keep all of the produce from the greenhouse in the Arizona market,” Crispo said ibn late December. “When harvest is in full swing, we expect 35,000 to 45,000 pounds a week.”
Legend’s grower Willem Doleman is supervising operations at the 1-acre greenhouse, where the company is growing tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and eggplants.
Crispo said Doleman is working closely with Legend’s food safety director Kristen Meisel and quality assurance director Jesus “Chuy” Lopez. The three reported good results from about 13,000 square feet of trial plantings in the new greenhouse, Crispo said.
“Our focus for the greenhouse vegetables will be foodservice and high-end retail,” Crispo said, adding that one retailer and two foodservice companies already are onboard.
Crispo said the company decided to expand into greenhouse growing to meet year-round demand from customers who want Arizona-grown vegetables. He said the plan is to keep the greenhouse operation relatively small and local but producing vegetables without seasonal interruptions.
The company created two additional positions in its sales department because of the increased volume Legend expects to be selling, Crispo said.
The new sales representatives — Lance Nichols and Susie Cerezo — are already hired and taking calls.