It’s hard to believe we are officially wrapping up our 20th year in the greenhouse growing business. This year was full of many successes and milestones for our team in both Leamington, ON and Delta, OH, and we couldn’t be more grateful for our Grow-To People for all their hard work these past 365 days.
With so many accomplishments to recognize, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane and remind ourselves of the exciting events, announcements, and developments that took place at Nature Fresh Farms in 2019!
A Look Back at 2019
Company Growth & Milestones
We’re expanding in every direction! Here are some of our major expansion projects, growth milestones, and product achievements from 2019.
Greenhouse expansions – In 2019, we completed building and planted our first crop in our newest 32-acre greenhouse facility in Leamington, ON! This facility will allow us to officially grow Tomatoes in Ontario during the winter months alongside our Ohio-based facility. This state-of-the-art operation uses the latest growing technologies available, including self-driving carts and vertical circulation fans, to grow the highest quality and freshest Tomatoes available during Ontario’s coldest months of the year. Learn more about this new facility in our press release.
In addition to completing this 32-acre operation, our team began construction on our next greenhouse project – another 32-acre facility that will allow us to expand into growing more Organic-certified produce starting in 2020!
Supply Chain Milestones – In Leamington, our team also started packing product in our newest 110,000 square foot Warehouse, and in Ohio, we opened the doors of our first Delta-based Distribution Center! Both new operations boast top-of-the-line technologies, ensuring our supply chain stays competitive and becomes increasingly efficient.
In addition to these new facilities, we also implemented a brand-new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system designed to compile all our independent data processes into one easy-to-use interface to increase efficiency and accuracy.
Growth in Organics – As our business continues to expand, so does our commitment to growing more Organic-certified produce for our customers to enjoy. In 2019, we doubled our Organic acreage to reach over 60 total acres of Organically-grown produce, and in 2020, we will continue to expand our Organic offerings.
Best Overall Tomato, Pepper, & Cucumber – Our Growing team was also recognized in 2019 for their dedication to growing the most flavorful and fresh-tasting produce in Leamington. At the Leamington Fair’s annual Hottest Tomato Competition, our team took home a record-breaking 10 awards, including Overall Best Tomato, Best Pepper, and Best Cucumber! Discover all the top accolades we received in our press release.
New Partnerships & Innovations
When it comes to growing our commitment to sustainability, we announced some exciting partnerships this year!
Sustainable packaging – Our most successful sustainable packaging initiative in 2019 was hands-down the introduction of our compostable Mini Cucumber tray to our packaging lineup. We teamed up with local manufacturer Pulp Moulded Products (PMP) to offer a tray that is an environmentally friendly alternative to the use of polystyrene foam trays. In just over a year and a half, we have distributed over 6 million compostable trays into the marketplace, saving roughly 67,200 pounds of Styrofoam trays from entering landfills, which is equal to 12 truckloads! To learn more about this innovative packaging solution, read the full press release here!
Eco-friendly energy management – Another sustainable initiative we launched this year was in partnership with Hiram Walker & Sons Limited, a local whisky producer that is now providing our Energy team with a renewable fuel source in the form of whisky cull barrels. To date, Hiram Walker has provided us with over 25,000 barrels as fuel for our biomass boilers, one of our main sources of energy during the cold winter months in Ontario. See the full impact of this eco-friendly energy program by reading the press release here!
Events Held Far & Wide
You could find our team all over the world in 2019 – check out some of our event highlights below.
Industry events – Throughout the year there are many events our team members attend as ambassadors for Nature Fresh Farms. This year, our team attended the SEPC Southern Exposure show, CPMA Convention and Expo, and the United Fresh Market Expo. Most recently we attended the PMA Fresh Summit show in Anaheim, CA – at this event, we focused on the #FutureOfFresh and how Nature Fresh Farms continues to make big moves in greenhouse farming. By using the latest and greatest technologies, developing unique and sustainable product offerings, and building a capable team of out-of-the-box thinkers, we plan on continuing to lead the #FutureOfFresh conversation far beyond this event.
Greenhouse Education Center – We also hit the road for another summer with our Greenhouse Education Center, a 40-foot long mobile greenhouse unit designed to show people exactly how we grow in our greenhouses! This summer, the unit was manned by two Nutrition students who were beyond excited to share their knowledge about healthy eating and nutritious food choices at local retailers, fairs, and schools.
Team Development & AppreciationH
We can’t do what we do every day without our incredible team of Grow-To People. They are the true difference-makers!
Employee appreciation – From annual picnics to barbecues to holiday parties galore, our leaders love showing our team members appreciation and thanking them for their dedication to our success. In 2019, our senior management team also hosted an extra celebration to commemorate 20 years as a company and announce an all-new Group Retirement Plan to benefit our full-time employees. It’s official – our Grow-To People are always treated with respect and care by our leadership team!
Growing ranks – Speaking of Grow-To People – across Canada and the United States, we now officially employ over 750 team members who help us grow fresh, nutritious food every single day! And we are constantly bringing new people onto our team to begin building strong careers within our company. Interested in helping us grow our ranks? Head to our Careers page for our latest job postings!
Showing Love for Our Communities
Our leaders are committed to giving back to the communities we grow in – keep reading to discover some of our most impactful community initiatives from 2019.
The Quiring Family: Fresh Start Housing – At the beginning of 2019, the Quiring family announced an exciting partnership with The Bridge Youth Resource Centre in Leamington, ON to fund the development of The Quiring Family: Fresh Start Housing facility. We were excited to witness the grand opening of this transitionary housing facility at the beginning of December! The new facility will provide youth in the community who do not have stable access to housing with transitionary housing units. In addition to providing them with a more secure living space, this facility will give local youth access to the resources and support network they need to work towards procuring permanent housing.
Annual Holiday Giveaway – This year we also took our Annual Holiday Giveaway to new heights. We encouraged community members in both Windsor-Essex, ON and Fulton County, OH to nominate deserving families in their communities to receive some extra holiday cheer. With over 500 nominations received, South Essex Fabricating (our sister company) and Nature Fresh Farms collectively sponsored 30 deserving families. In addition, members of our team came together to sponsor an additional 15 local families! Every sponsored family received a $500 grocery gift card and a holiday food basket to help make their holiday season a little brighter.
Cross-Company Can Drive – Another tradition across all of Peter Quiring’s companies is to hold a cross-company canned food drive and, as a Christmas gift to Peter, donate all the non-perishable items collected to a local food bank in his name. We were able to collectively donate over 5,000 non-perishable food items for this year’s donation!
Here’s to 20 Years!
Our team had some incredible successes and proud moments in 2019. We may be leaving behind an important year in our history, but there is even more to look forward to in the years to come.
Here’s to 20 years – now let’s see what the next 20 have in store for us!