Our team had previously visited several Wegman stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey with our Greenhouse Education Center, sharing with consumers how we grow tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers that they purchase. Wegmans is like no other retailer. With a company culture of “putting others before yourself”, it has become nationally recognized for its customer service and quality produce.
NatureFresh™ Farms established a retail partnership with Wegman’s for a couple of years, providing premium peppers, variety of tomatoes, and English cucumbers. The Wegman store has its roots back 100 years ago when it first started as the Rochester Fruit & Produce Company in 1916. Wegmans became popular in the years as it offered many unique and innovative practices at the time, such as a cafeteria and misting system which kept produce cool and fresh. Over the decades, Wegman icons like Robert and Danny Wegman (current President) have built the reputation which it carries still to this day. NatureFresh™ Farms works constantly to perfect growing methods so that only the best is shipped to retailers, like Wegmans year round. Our team always enjoys the Wegmans stores because the genuine interest shoppers have in looking for sustainable and quality product.
Perhaps the most common question and interest I received during the tour this week was regarding sustainability of NatureFresh™. Growing up, I always considered myself an environmentalist and looked for the ways to minimize my impact on the environment. Working with NatureFresh™ and show casing how we grow with the mobile greenhouse, it is exciting to share with people who support similar causes. We got many comments like “this is the way of the future” and “glad to see you guys doing this”. As we travel the country visiting different communities around the Great Lakes and North East, these phrases are becoming a trend. To me this is a positive signal. It tells the team and I that we as society want to know more about how their food is grown. If we collectively work together to make small changes, we can make a huge impact in conserving and properly utilizing our resources. We live in a busy world and it is not always easy to spend extra time or money on efforts to support sustainable causes. If however we have a choice to choose products that are comparable in cost but are backed with sustainable practices, why wouldn’t we choose it? A package of locally grown NatureFresh™ grape tomatoes is comparable if not cheaper than a package of grape tomatoes that travelled twice the distance in many cases. Support local whenever you can. You will find that the price is very comparable. We are excited to see our locally grown “Ohio Reds” tomato’s on the vine being shipped to the North East and around the Great Lakes! Look for them in the stores!
NatureFresh™ is a company that stands behind sustainable growing practices to minimize the impacts to the environment. When you purchase a NatureFresh™ product, you can have the confidence of supporting a local and “Green” product. What kinds of things back up this statement? What actually makes NatureFresh™ a sustainable company? Growing vertically with string trellises, using timed drip systems, and biomass boilers are just a few ways we minimize the space, water, and fuel. At NatureFresh™ we can achieve yields much greater compared to field grown product- 10 times more yield! So an acre of Greenhouse peppers at NatureFresh™ can yield what 10 acres of field peppers would produce. So what about water conservation? Not only does hydroponic production use about 10% of the water compared to traditional agriculture, we also don’t discharge nutrient solutions into natural water sources like lakes and streams. This is referred to as a “closed system” and prevents algae blooms in lakes due to excess nutrient discharge, which has been a serious problem. These are just a few of the techniques we use at NatureFresh™ Farms and is what I love to share with everyone who visits the mobile greenhouse. NatureFresh™ and Wegmans continue to build a legacy of premium products backed with sustainability.
Something to ponder….
I mentioned some of the remarks that are made which gives the team motivation to continue to do what we do. We often encounter many misconceptions regarding how we grow and what hydroponics actually means. When you pick up a package of lettuce that says “living lettuce” or a package of “hothouse hydroponic tomatoes”, what does this actually mean? Is it fresher? Are hydroponic tomatoes just “flavorless fruits filled with water”? I mean they aren’t growing in soil, so where is the flavor coming from? Next week we will explore some of the myths and misconceptions behind hydroponic farming!