Are Greenhouse Vegetables Right For Your Business?
More and more ornamental growers are looking at produce as a profitable way to fill the greenhouse between crops. It's worth a look to see if it makes sense for your business.
June 20, 2012
I'll be the first to admit it. I thought vegetables were a fad. When the recession hit back in 2008 and we started to see consumer interest in growing their own herbs and vegetables, it seemed to me like a nice but short-lived sales bump. Growers and retailers already in the market would sell a few more starter plants. Consumers would get the feel-good experience of growing their own food rather than spending money at the grocery store each week — before growing tired of it.
I was wrong.
Demand has continued to grow. And not just vegetables, but herbs and fruits as well. As it turns out, home-grown produce taps into a couple of trends that go beyond the state of the U.S. economy.
For one, it’s local. Whether growing it themselves or buying it at the farmer’s market on Saturday, an increasing number of people like the idea of food that’s not produced on a big farm somewhere far away. Local produce supports local business, and, theoretically at least, is better quality than produce shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles.
Next, it’s healthy. Despite what you see in the stats about obesity — or perhaps because of what you see in the stats about obesity — more and more people actually do want to eat healthfully these days.
Vegetables: A Whole New Business
And, increasingly, growing produce — not just starter plants for consumers but actual fruits and vegetables that you can harvest and sell — can be an interesting fit for greenhouse growers with some downtime between ornamental crops. You may not be growing a crop between the time you finish spring and start fall, but you still have that same overhead to pay for. For some of you, producing produce may be a very viable way to add revenue and make the end-of-the-year profit line a bit healthier.
Is this a niche that’s right for your operation?
It’s not as simple as adding a new petunia or calibrachoa, but we’re ready to help you understand some of the decisions you’ll face to make a go of it in vegetable production. Which crops and varieties make sense for you? What new insects and diseases will you need to know? Will you need to make changes to your structures and equipment? What will you need to know about food safety and handling regulations? And where exactly will you sell the produce you grow?
We're here to help. Our eNewsletter, Getting Started With Greenhouse Vegetables, will help you understand the answers to a lot of these questions. Over the next several months, we'll cover all of these topics with research, stories from ornamental growers who have made the jump in to produce, Q&As with experts, and a lot more.
We have some unique resources to work with. Greenhouse Grower has been the market leading brand for ornamentals growers for nearly 30 years. And two of our sister brands — American Vegetable Grower and Productores de Hortalizas — have devoted decades to helping growers produce greenhouse vegetables both here in the U.S. and in Mexico. The editors from all of these brands are lending their expertise, and together, we’ll try to help you make an educated decision about growing greenhouse vegetables.
Take a look and see if produce makes sense for you. It’s certainly not for everybody, but it may just be the right niche for your business.
Richard Jones is the group editor for Greenhouse Grower and Today's Garden Center magazines.