Initiative looks to tie locally grown concept to greenhouse products
by Christina DiMartino | May 05, 2010
Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, a Leamington, ON-based member
organization that lobbies, conducts research and promotes for Ontario
greenhouse vegetable growers, is looking to connect its products with the
locally grown concept via a new consumer initiative.
George Gilvesy, general manager of the organization, told The Produce News
that its new locally grown program, known as "Oh-So-Local" and with the
tagline “Request Ontario Greenhouse Freshness,” launched April 30 and will
focus on greenhouse-produced vegetables.
“It will include advertising campaigns in the greater Toronto and Ottawa
areas,” said Mr. Gilvesy. “Promotions include signage on bus backs and the
interiors of transit vehicles such as street cars, buses and subway cars.”
OGVG will use $100,000 of its own money with matching provincial funding
for a total of $200,000 to support the new campaign.
“When people think of locally grown, they tend to think of field-grown fruits
and vegetables,” said Mr. Gilvesy. “But Ontario greenhouse-grown vegetables
are local to our communities. They've just not been promoted as such in the
past. This initiative was developed to help raise consumer awareness of the
great tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers that the greenhouse industry here
The project has two phases: one in the spring as the Ontario greenhouse
industry is starting, and again in the fall before the end of the season. With
the exception of cucumbers, which are produced year-round in Ontario, the
season extends from March through December.
“The program and funding is designated for this year,” said Mr. Gilvesy.
“Matching-fund programs come and go, and we will keep our eyes open for
new funding programs in the future in hopes of continuing the program.”
Pat Hoy and Bruce Crozier, local members of the provincial parliament,
delivered the $100,000 to OGVG on April 30. In an announcement, Mr. Hoy
said, “Ontario is spurring rural economies and local food sales by supporting
this marketing project in Leamington. When we buy Ontario, everyone wins.
It’s good for farmers and processors, good for families, good for the
environment, and good for the rural economies. With this fund, we are
expanding local food networks and helping communities and industries
showcase the abundance of food that is produced and made in Ontario.”
Mr. Gilvesy stressed that the “Oh-So-Local” campaign has nothing to do with
the March 22 announcement by the Canada Border Services Agency that it
was investigating alleged injurious dumping of greenhouse Bell peppers
originating in or exported from the Netherlands.
“Unfortunately, at least one press venue got that fact wrong,” he said. “This
program is to promote locally grown Ontario greenhouse produce. It’s not in
retaliation of or about any other issue.”
Mr. Gilvesy also announced that the OGVG is aggressively looking at
promoting more strongly to the foodservice industry.
“About 60 percent of tomato consumption is at the foodservice level,” he
said. “The Ontario greenhouse industry has always been strongly focused on
the retail sector, but now we’re placing more concentration on foodservice.”
For the first time, the OGVG will exhibit at the PMA Foodservice Conference &
Exposition, scheduled for July 30-Aug. 1 in Monterey, CA.
“Our food-safety initiative has created a lot of opportunities for our growers,”
Mr. Gilvesy added.
OGVG’s “First In Food Safety” program helps producers establish a system to
reduce the potential for chemical, microbial and physical contamination of
cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes, and provide a traceability system that can
limit the potential scope of an outbreak of foodborne illness.