Some interesting greenhouse production stories are occurring in various locations around the world. Here are a few examples.
Le Gaga Takes Off In China
Le Gaga Holdings Limited, not related to Lady Gaga in any way, is one of the largest greenhouse production companies in China. Their current growth rate is more than 100 hectares (250 acres) per year, and they are now listed on the NASDAQ (ticker: GAGA).
Chief Financial Officer Auke Cnossen studied at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, received his MBA at Cornell University, and then worked various other jobs in the U.S. and Hong Kong. Le Gaga currently owns farms in the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, and Hebei.
Nearly half of Gaga’s sales are from various types of peppers, and another 10% are from tomatoes, with cucumbers and eggplants also among their offerings. In the hotter southern provinces, greens such as pak choi are predominant rather than fruiting vegetables, which are grown further north.
More than 85% of sales from their 10 growing regions in China come from the greenhouse. Currently, they harvest produce from more than 600 hectares (about 1,500 acres). With more than a billion people in China, market growth potential is enormous.
Detroit Hospital Greenhouse Project
Not the typical venue for a green-house, the Henry Ford West Bloom-field Hospital has built a $1 million hydroponic production facility. Funding for the 1,500-square-foot-glass structure and educational center come from an anonymous donor.
In production already are red and green lettuce, kale, eggplant, squash, pole beans, cucumbers, 23 kinds of tomatoes including heirloom cherry tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, okra, herbs, microgreens, strawberries, and even edible nasturtium flowers. The produce is used by the hospital’s kitchen and is also available in the hospital café.
This may just be the first hospital-based greenhouse in the country. Hospital chefs are thrilled because they can get all the fresh herbs and microgreens they need from the hospital greenhouse. The greenhouse manager claims that her 240-square-foot hydroponic lettuce area can produce 15,000 heads of lettuce per year if managed properly.
The goal of the new greenhouse and educational center is to promote healthy living. A primary goal is educating children. School groups will come to the greenhouse center so the kids can learn about healthy food choices to help fight childhood obesity.
Greenhouse At Prison In Montana
A women’s prison near Billings, MT, has recently built a greenhouse to join its vegetable garden project. Next spring, they should be able to grow enough vegetables to not only meet the prison’s needs, but also have enough surplus to donate to the local food bank.
The 80-by-30-foot greenhouse is located adjacent to a 7,500-square-foot garden north of the prison. As many other prisons around the county have found, growing their own vegetables goes a long way to offset the costs of food production for the prisoners and staff.
In addition, prisoners have the opportunity to learn a new life skill with vocational training that they could use after release. And, the community service of donating food to the Billings Food Bank is another gold star for this facility.
Another similar project is planned for the Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility in Miles City.
Vermont Parent-Child Center Greenhouse
In yet another example of people constructing greenhouses with the goal of better nutrition for clients, a Middlebury, VT, Parent-Child Center has built a 16-by-20-foot greenhouse. Funds for this project were from a $13,000 grant from the Canaday Family Trust. The Center wants to make sure that healthy vegetables are more accessible to people with limited means in the area.
The Center teaches young clients to be better parents, and one of the focus areas is better nutrition. It is often much easier in limited resource neighborhoods to find junk food rather than healthy vegetables. The greenhouse project will teach parents how to balance their meals and how to do it cheaply as well.
Although the Center has had a garden for several years, the harvest has been limited to the warm months when the garden was in production. Now, with the new greenhouse, serving healthy vegetables year round to the 90 or so people every day will be attainable.