The Vôg sticker on Quebec’s first greenhouse peppers can mean anything you like, says marketing and development manager André Michaud.
Vegetable Organic Greenhouse, perhaps, since the company also grows organic lettuce and peppers under glass, or the V could stand for “Vert” (the French word for “green”). Or “Vogue,” for style.
“We just made it up,” said Michaud, who works for Les Serres Lefort Inc. in Sainte-Clotilde-De-Chateauguay, 40 minutes south of Montreal.
“It’s young, it’s easy,” he said.
In its first year growing peppers, the 6-acre greenhouse has produced about 660 tons of yellow, orange and red sweet peppers for Quebec supermarket chains.
As the first crop cycle ends, the plants will be removed in early December and the greenhouse replanted.
“Nobody was doing peppers in Quebec because they don’t have the experience,” he said. “We decided it was a good opportunity and learned from the best operations in Ontario, Holland and France.”
Local sawmills provide the wood chips used to heat the greenhouse year-round, lowering energy costs by a third compared to propane.
That makes it possible to compete with Ontario greenhouse peppers, Michaud said.
Summer, when Vôg competed with local field peppers, was the most challenging time of the year, he said.
But consumers appreciate the fact that the peppers are Quebec-grown, he said, and with the provincial government pushing a buy local campaign, Montreal supermarkets have embraced the new brand.
Michaud and his team are now looking at package designs for next year and working on plans to expand production to meet the growing demand for their products.
“About 10 hectares (25 acres) would be optimal for peppers,” he said.