(June 19, 10:33 a.m.) A handful of major North American greenhouse-hothouse vegetable grower-shippers have put the finishing touches on a newly launched association aimed at educating retailers, foodservice operators and consumers. The hurdle was to determine what constituted a greenhouse-hothouse grower-shipper.

“It was always confusing to the retailers and the buyers as well as the consumers,” said Michael DeGiglio, a member of the board of directors of the new organization, the North American Greenhouse-Hothouse Vegetable Growers Association, and chief executive officer of Village Farms LP, Eatontown, N.J. “Nobody really quite understood what’s a greenhouse, a hothouse, or what’s hydroponic.”

The association will attempt to end that confusion with a certified greenhouse program that specifies the standards to which members must adhere:

  • A fully enclosed, permanent structure for the controlled environment growing of certified greenhouse-hothouse vegetables;

  • use of computerized irrigation and climate control systems;

  • produce must be grown in a soilless medium;

  • use of hydroponic methods; and

  • must practice integrated pest management.

Ongoing third-party audits will ensure certified greenhouse grower-shippers continue to meet the program’s standards, DeGiglio said. In addition to Village Farms, the association’s charter members are Eurofresh Farms, a division of Eurofresh Inc., Wilcox, Ariz.; and, three Delta, British Columbia-based grower-shippers, Windset Greenhouses LP, Houweling’s Hot House and Gipaanda Greenhouses Ltd.

The association will be headquartered in Bellingham, Wash., and the search has begun for a staff, DeGiglio said.

Simultaneously, the group plans to expand the membership of the dues supported nonprofit association. Membership is open to all greenhouse growers in North America, he said.

Greenhouse-hothouse grower-shippers are the produce industry’s leaders in conservation and sustainable growing, DeGiglio said.

“Our products are not gas green produce,” he said. “They are vine-ripened, hand-picked, and not subject to drought or wind or other outside occurrences that affect the yield.”

New greenhouse-hothouse group to specify standards
The newly-created North American Greenhouse-Hothouse Vegetable Growers Association is creating a certified greenhouse program that specifies five key standards to which members must adhere.