Chris Mastronardi, owner and president of Double Diamond Acres, a leading greenhouse producer in Leamington, ON, told The Produce News that the company’s new high-tech greenhouse facility in Leamington — in a separate location from the company’s existing operation — is now up and running.
“We finished planting about 30 days ago,” Mr. Mastronardi said Jan. 28. “The new farm, which is 25-acres, will be producing our full cucumber line. The line includes seedless long English cucumbers, mini cucumbers and cocktail cucumbers, which are just a bit smaller than the mini cucumbers.”
Both the mini cucumbers and cocktail cucumbers are packed in tray packs, and the long English cucumbers are shrink-wrap sealed.
Double Diamond continues its major production of conventional tomatoes, Bell peppers and specialty items. Mr. Mastronardi said the company’s specialty items — including its Red Delight cherry tomatoes, Campanelle tomatoes, Tomato Berry mini cocktail tomatoes and numerous others — are doing extremely well at market, but the main core items, including tomatoes-on-the-vine and beefsteak tomatoes, are always strong.
“Because of the new facility, our production focus was entirely on the cucumber line this year,” said Mr. Mastronardi. “As of now we are in production in Canada with cucumbers only. Tomatoes and peppers will begin in the middle of March.”
During Canada’s greenhouse off-season, Double Diamond pulls its same items from its Mexican partners, which Mr. Mastronardi said are expanding a little more every year.
But for now, the excitement at the company is over the new Leamington facility.
“This is one of the most state-of-the-art facilities ever built,” said Mr. Mastronardi. “It is highly energy efficient. Two energy curtains placed one on top of the other near the roof will save us about 10 percent a year in fuel. The primary function of the curtains is to keep heat inside at night.”
He mentioned that the temperatures in Leamington had been below freezing for a straight week starting Jan. 21.
“The new facility also has a state-of-the-art packingline,” said Mr. Mastronardi. “It is a fully automated line and is the only one of its kind in Canada. It reduces labor costs by between 25 and 30 percent.
“The key people who have worked for us for a long time are running the new facility,” he continued. “And we have hired some additional support staff.”