This past weekend, the Greenhouse Education Center Team made the trek down to New Jersey to visit three Wegmans locations. Departing from Leamington, we had just over a ten-hour drive ahead of us, travelling through picturesque scenes of farms, forest, and foggy hills in Ohio and Pennsylvania. On our first day of the #GreenInTheCity Tour, we visited the Wegmans in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Although the store had slower traffic so early in the week, we had many conversations with visitors to the mobile greenhouse that were meaningful and revealed our first insight into what the consumer from New Jersey searches for in a product, and the consumers from near and far for that matter. Time and time again, I was asked “is NatureFresh™ Farms Jersey fresh?” or “Do your tomatoes taste like Jersey tomatoes?”
These questions stuck out to me at the end of the first day, and after the second day of tour I could clearly identify a pattern. Our second day had us stationed in Ocean, New Jersey and within minutes of our arrival at the Wegmans location, we were as busy as our bumblebee ecosystem with admirers, onlookers, and friendly visitors! It is always wonderful to see people make the connection between the produce growing on our mobile greenhouse and the produce they purchase in the store, and it is also promising that so many people care tremendously about where their food comes from and how it is grown. Once again, questions flooded in about how NatureFresh™ Farms fits into New Jersey; questions like, “Why don’t you grow in Jersey?” and statements such as “I grew up eating Jersey tomatoes from my grandfather’s garden, I know what a good tomato tastes like!” At the end of the second day, I couldn’t help but observe just how many people brought up New Jersey when I was informing them on how NatureFresh™ Farms grows our fresh produce, and how they linked their much loved Jersey tomatoes to an assurance of quality and great taste. By the end of Day 3, I was certain of one thing, people have a sentimental connection with their food, especially tomatoes! So many of us grew up helping our families in the garden or on the farm, and the scent and taste of that homegrown tomato is deeply embedded into their mind. Furthermore, people base their decisions on what tomato they purchase from the supermarket on how similar the look, feel, and scent of the tomato is compared to their childhood memories. This high standard for tomatoes is where NatureFresh™ Farms fits into such a sentimental world, because our tomatoes resemble the tomatoes that people have fond memories about. Many visitors to the trailer commented on how our tomatoes looked just like the tomatoes they used to take off of their mother’s tomato vine, and they expressed just how long they had been searching for that perfect tomato; the bright redness of the fruit, the smooth texture, and the fragrant scent reminded of them of the tomatoes they had a sentimental attachment to. We were able to sample our product to visitors to the Wegmans locations, and that opened the doors up for further conversation about how much the taste brought back memories and emotions.
Here at NatureFresh™ Farms, we have been able to grow a tomato that is up to par with the quality that consumers expect from their own homegrown tomatoes, and we are spreading the message about our quality and uniqueness around eastern North America!
New Jersey is truly a lovely place to be, and the people who live in New Jersey were so welcoming to us and so well informed about why the Future of Fresh matters and why Greenhouse Grown also matters! We made many friends through our conversations and built genuine relationships with the consumer that I hope to engage with again one day! Thanks for making our GEC Team feel so welcomed!