High-tech greenhouse designer and grower Peter Quiring plans to expand his Ontario-based Nature Fresh Farms to Ohio this year with ground-breaking expected in April on a 175-acre, $200 million greenhouse complex.
The first phase will be a 15-acre greenhouse for tomatoes. The first crop is expected to ship in December this year, said Ray Wowryk, director of business development for the Leamington, Ontario, company.
“The goal is every six months, after the first harvest, to begin construction of another 15 acres,” Wowryk said Jan. 9. “We already have some growers who are willing to relocate from Leamington to Ohio to help.”
Local employees will make up the bulk of the workforce at the Delta, Ohio, operation though, which will be managed remotely by Nature Fresh officials at the Leamington headquarters, Wowryk said. The Ohio location is in Fulton County and is about two and a half hours from Leamington by car, Wowryk said.
Year-round production is planned for the Ohio greenhouse by using lights to supplement sunlight during winter months. Those lights are just one of the high-tech features planned for the operation.
Quiring has made environmental impact and sustainability a top priority since founding Nature Fresh in 2000 and that practice will continue with the expansion into the U.S. The Nature Fresh greenhouses in Canada accomplished zero water discharge in recent years, recycling all of the water back into the facility. Similar technology is planned for the Ohio operation.
For additional sustainability at the Ohio facility Quiring is negotiating with North Star Bluescope Steel LLC to use carbon dioxide and waste heat from their operations to heat the greenhouse and “feed” the plants. The steel plant is located across the street from the proposed greenhouse site.
Nature Fresh is still waiting for a variety of government actions, such as local development approval and state and federal reviews. Wowryk said there hasn’t been any opposition to the planned Ohio construction, which is expected to take seven years to complete.
“The proposed investment by Nature Fresh Farms is an exciting project for the York Township, the Village of Delta, and surrounding communities,” Fulton County Economic Development Corp. director Matt Gilroy said in a news release.
“The company plans to employ more than 300 people by the last phase of the project and its payroll at the Fulton County location will be nearly $12 million annually.”