Harnois Greenhouses: Converting To Organic
A Canadian tomato grower expands to pursue market niche and promote sustainable production
May 6, 2011
Innovation often lies as much with growers as it does with greenhouse manufacturers. A greenhouse is but another tool to an experienced grower. The creativity growers demonstrate in maximizing their structural investment and the ability with which they utilize the physical space and structural features of the greenhouse to continually test the limits of production is inspiring.
Just this year, one of Harnois’ customers, Serres Sagami of Sagami Greenhouses in Quebec approached the greenhouse manufacturer with a vision to propel business into the organic market. The grower had been producing tomatoes conventionally with much success for many years and could have continued to keep customers and his banker happy for many more. However, he was driven to explore ways to push his business forward in a very competitive market.
The turning point came when Sagami decided to add an additional 4.2 acres of organic tomato production to his 8.65 acres of conventional production. The real challenge was not building new greenhouses. It was ensuring the project enabled the company’s sustainability program, which includes reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 7,621 tons, as well as new green packaging solutions to respond to consumers’ growing ecological concerns. For this vision to come to life, he required a quality structure and quality equipment.
The selection process took place over three months and left no detail uncovered – biomass burner, storage space for wood pellets, automated ventilation, energy-saving features and space optimization. All of the client’s expectations were addressed in a single, turnkey project. The grower worked with Harnois’ team of designers, engineers and agronomists to ensure every aspect of the range would function the way it was expected to and aggressively propel his operation forward toward his ultimate goal of efficiency and profitability.
The efficiency of the range will be such that the grower expects to produce organic tomatoes for the same cost as conventional tomatoes, supporting a return on investment projected to be much faster than in a typical greenhouse operation. The attitude and attention to detail demonstrated throughout this project used to be the exception. Now it is becoming the norm.