NatureFresh Farms, Canada, opened the mobile Greenhouse Education Center (GEC), a 38-foot custom-built unit that replicates how NatureFresh Farms grows its vegetables in state-of-the-art high-tech greenhouses in Leamington, Ontario, Canada, and Delta, Ohio.
Equipped with fruit bearing plants and complimented by a live Bumblebee Eco-System, the GEC serves as an education resource to inform consumers about how greenhouse vegetables grow.
“The mobile greenhouse has not only been a conversation starter, but a difference maker in how we connect with our customers,” says Ray Wowryk, director of business development. “We care about the future of fresh and all that it entails; we need to collectively increase fresh produce consumption. NatureFresh can help do that with the GEC, and by getting front and center with consumers, we share our story to help inform them of the value of greenhouse vegetables. Knowing who grows what you buy is important, understanding how its grown is just as important if not more.”
Supporting the GEC this summer are 5 college students who serve as NatureFresh brand ambassadors, responsible for event day operations and interacting with retail partners to ensure customers receive the best possible experience. With varied backgrounds ranging from agribusiness to environmental science to marketing to biology, the team provides unique perspectives of the value of greenhouse-grown vegetables.
“We are able to immediately impact consumers’ purchasing decisions at store level with the knowledge we share about how we grow greenhouse vegetables,” says Cole Burkholder, GEC team member and third-year environmental science major from Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. “The look on people’s faces when we explain the greenhouse-growing process and they see the live plants with real fruit, it’s priceless, you kind of see that ‘a-ha’ moment in their eyes. We’ve even had customers show us their shopping carts when leaving to show us the tomatoes or bell peppers they have purchased because of our conversation. It’s a pretty good feeling.”
Now in its third year, the #GreenInTheCity Tour has completed more than 200 events across eastern North America connecting with consumers at retail stores, summer camps, schools and community fairs. The 2017 tour will continue on through early November, wrapping up at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Canada.