Although it may be hard to believe, I had never been inside of a greenhouse before I started working at NatureFresh™ Farms. I was recently hired for the Greenhouse Education Center Team this summer, and so I had the opportunity to be taken on an in-depth tour of NatureFresh™ Farms’ greenhouse facilities in preparation for my role. I went into my first greenhouse not quite knowing what to expect. To put it lightly, I was beyond impressed by the scale of their operation, the care being given to their plants, and the passion of the workers that I got to meet on-site. I could not believe the sheer amount of fruit that was being produced in this place on a daily basis – it seemed surreal that this was where my bell peppers and cucumbers were grown before being sent to my local grocery store. Although my tour only allowed me to scratch the surface of what greenhouse growing entails, as it is an extremely complex and intricate process, I consider the knowledge that I gained from the NatureFresh™ Farms team to be invaluable.
There was a moment during my first tour of the greenhouse that may seem small, but for me, was fairly pivotal. I was touring Phase 4, which is where NatureFresh™ strictly grows conventional tomatoes. We were strolling down the middle walkway, talking about how tomatoes grow (as one does in a greenhouse). I was encouraged to try one of the fruits hanging beside us, and I hesitated. I was never much of a tomato fan (I know – how could someone who does not like tomatoes move to Leamington, the Tomato Capital of Canada??). Even though I knew I would likely not enjoy the experience, I thought to myself: If I don’t like it, I can just not eat another one ever again. I need to do this so I don’t seem rude, at least.
I picked a gorgeous, plump, firm, red cherry tomato right off of the vine. I popped it in my mouth. I bit down. My eyes immediately lit up. It was amazing. I had never, EVER thought I would utter these words:
“That tomato was so good.”
I know it may sound a little silly, but the moment I bit into that tomato, I knew that I was where I needed to be. If someone like me, who is not a fan of tomatoes, can be turned into a tomato lover with a single bite of a TOMZ Red Cherry tomato, then this place must be doing something right, and I would be honored to be a part of that.
After touring the NatureFresh™ Farms facilities, I was sent out on my first tour with the Greenhouse Education Center to Windsor and London. It was amazing to see people young and old showing so much interest in our mobile greenhouse, genuinely interested in learning more about how we grow at NatureFresh™ Farms. Watching a child’s eyes light up when I tell them that they can see some real-live bumble bees at the end of the trailer, or a man break a wide smile when he learns that we use coco fibre as a growing medium for our plants – these are the moments when I feel so privileged to be a part of an educational initiative that is fun, engaging, and informative for such a wide range of people.
When we were in Windsor on the first day of our tour, I was inside sampling our TOMZ Cherry tomatoes. I was engaging a lot of customers, but there were many people who would politely say: “No thank you – I’m not a tomato fan”. There was one particular young woman who said this to me, and I replied:
“I used to not be a tomato fan either, but then I tried one of these red cherry tomatoes, and it changed everything.”
I told her the story of my first greenhouse experience, how I picked the tomato right off of the vine, and how the flavor was like nothing I had ever tasted before. She looked at me quite skeptically, but my story seemed to resonate with her. She tentatively picked up a sampling tray, and popped one of the tomatoes into her mouth. Watching the expression on her face change from one of curiosity to pure shock and enjoyment was beyond satisfying. I asked her how she liked the taste, and she immediately snatched up two one pound clamshells of tomatoes and placed them in her cart. Then she said: “Those tomatoes are so good.”
It is moments like this one that I am so excited to witness this summer as part of the NatureFresh™ Farms family!