LEAMINGTON, Ontario — It’s no longer standing room only at the headquarters of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association.
“The members keep joking with me that my office isn’t a drive-up window anymore,” said George Gilvesy, association general manager.
A new 5,500-square-foot building gives the association more than twice the space of its former offices, which were in a strip mall where the driveway doubled for the adjacent Tim Horton’s fast food restaurant drive up window.
A large board room at the new HQ serves as a training room with seating for 80, including stadium-style seating on risers on two sides of the room for a good view of the screen at the front. The building also includes a smaller conference room provides space for staff meetings and a storage area.
Now that the construction of the new building is behind them, the association staff can give its complete attention to other building projects — like building consumption of Ontario’s greenhouse vegetables.
Toward that end, the association launched a campaign for retailers and consumers in recent weeks reminding them that the greenhouses in Canada’s sunniest province produce cucumbers year round.
Proclaiming that “Ontario cucumbers are always in season,” the campaign includes in-store sampling in Sobeys and Loblaws stores through the next two months. In addition, the association will be running radio tags and has developed point-of-sale material to help retailers support the initiative.
Another project on the table at the association is the pursuit of additional export markets. In conjunction with the Canadian Horticulture Council, the association is using government grant money for market research in East Asia.
The George Morris Center, Guelph, Ontario, is conducting the research and is scheduled to provide the association with the results in April.
Gilvesy said he was struck by the opportunities in East Asia during a presentation at the recent New York Produce Show. He said the market in East Asia is developing much faster that other areas of the world did, taking only a decade to show the expansion that other regions took 60 to 70 years to develop.
The Ontario growers don’t want to stop shipping to the U.S., but Gilvesy said the association believes it is important for it to provide its members with new opportunities.