Joe Sbrocchi, the general manager for Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers since September, plans to promote collaboration among members.
A retail veteran who most recently worked for Kingsville-based Mastronardi Produce, Sbrocchi described the association as headed in the right direction.
“Whenever you come across challenges, they tend to make you stronger, and the last little bit, I think what’s happened is that more and more of the players in this industry, this subsector, if you wish, really have started to understand the importance of coming together and treating certain things as a community rather than fighting amongst each other, that type of thing,” Sbrocchi said.
“So in my opinion, going forward, that needs to be accelerated and strengthened and shored up.”
He gives as the example the recent response to the influx of pepper weevil.
“We came together and in the space of two years have really, really come to manage this incredibly well,” Sbrocchi said. “That is done through collaboration and recognizing that we have to do things for the (betterment) of the entire industry, not just one player.”
Sbrocchi said he hopes to see shared learnings, and the Leamington-based organization has initiatives around numerous topics, including improved lighting and automation of all types.
“When you consider the entire greenhouse sector in this country, in Canada, Ontario is a massive piece of it, so with that comes the responsibility of acting at the forefront of things,” Sbrocchi said, “so whether it is the automation both in packhouse and greenhouse, whether it is fighting pests as they come up, all of these things, I believe anyway ... it’s kind of our responsibility to make sure that those things progress along.”
The organization has begun a two-year revamp of its marketing strategy, but one key is getting consumers to try the product and understand the benefits of it.
“Our job is basically to tell people how wonderful greenhouse is,” Sbrocchi said, “and that’s not a hard thing to do.”