Houweling’s first few months operating out of a new 40 acre addition to its Oxnard, Calif., greenhouse has proven the Delta, British Columbia-based company made a good choice with the add-on.
The greenhouse, now 120 acres total since the beginning of the year, is the world’s first energy-neutral greenhouse, said Kirk Homenick, director of sales and marketing. The 40 acres are complete with solar power heat to allow the greenhouse to operate more efficiently during cooler weather, a water recirculation system and a full-enclosed structure that keeps pests and disease on the outside.
“It’s been very positive,” Homenick said. “We’re employing all kinds of state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure, and hopefully we’ll continue to see a bump in yield and a reduction in fossil fuel and pesticide usage.”
The facility purifies rainwater as well as runoff from plants inside, and reuses it in the greenhouses. It also draws off solar energy, and uses that in the newest part of the greenhouse and the existing 80 acres.
Perhaps the most efficient of its benefits, the greenhouse’s completely enclosed structure keeps pests out, when many greenhouses might be opening vents during hot weather and letting pests in. The enclosed structure also prevents evaporation, Homenick said.
The actual structure itself is taller than a standard greenhouse, and lets in 15% more light.
“That has a positive effect on yield,” Homenick said.
Houweling’s grows a wide range of greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouses. The existing facility produced 5 million cartons of tomatoes annually, and with the expansion, that figure should increase by one-third.