Food Security and Vermillion Growers

May 20, 2020

The May Long Weekend is typically the time in Southern Manitoba when we mark the unofficial beginning of summer. Though the summer solstice is still more than a month away, it’s the May Long when folks tend to flock to open their cabins and cottages, golfers start to hit the links, and BBQ season takes off. With the warmer weather, construction also generally kicks into high gear.

 
This year is quite different. With COVID-19, although construction has been allowed to continue, it is certainly happening at a slower pace because of physical distancing requirements and the ability to procure materials. We were expecting a slower early spring, and now that the ground is much firmer, it allows us to work a little faster. COVID-19 continues to present challenges, yet we still plan to produce tomatoes by spring of 2021, right on schedule.
 
Knowing that COVID-19 has produced some challenges thrusts a subject we introduced in our last blog entry into the spotlight: food security. This is the availability of food and people’s ability to access it. At Vermillion Growers, we are committed to food security for our region as we build our greenhouse in Dauphin, Manitoba.
 
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, tomatoes are the highest fresh vegetable import by commodity (in terms of metric tonnes) imported into Canada in 2018. Around 72% of these tomatoes were imported from Mexico. Considering this in the current pandemic times we live in, it makes us all wonder: “what if the borders closed and we couldn’t get our tomatoes?” With the border between the United States and Canada already closed to non-essential travel, it isn’t a far stretch to imagine not being able to transport vegetables across the border. And this is precisely why food security is important, and why Vermillion Growers is so committed to it.
 
With restaurants limited to how much they can serve at the moment, we consider how our diets have changed. Obviously, potatoes are in lower demand because, with so many restaurants closed, fewer people are able to have “fries with that,” and those same people are not buying potatoes in the same bulk as restaurants in order to make their own. However, the staple tomato, ubiquitous in salads and pasta sauces, remains in high demand. Once we finish building our warehouse and move on to the actual greenhouse itself later this summer, Vermillion Growers will be positioned to offer food security to the area we are proud to serve - Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Northwest Ontario, right from our home in the Parkland Region of Manitoba.
 
As we continue our steady construction, if you’d like to connect with us, we’d love to hear from you: simply click on Contact Us on our website.
 

Spring at Vermillion Growers

 
April 19, 2020
 
It’s April, and the first full month of spring! The mild weather is certainly welcome, as it is a preface to an even more active construction season on our site! Of course, we are presented with some obvious challenges, which we are meeting head-on, and we wanted to share with you our progress building our state-of-the-art greenhouse in Dauphin, Manitoba!
 
As you have seen in our previous blog entries, we have made significant progress by building our warehouse. Manitoba has allowed construction on our site to continue as an essential service. The rules surrounding social distancing and how construction sites should operate during the COVID-19 situation are constantly changing, and we are doing everything possible to ensure the workers on our site are safe and remain healthy. Observing these rules has certainly slowed progress, as some processes have changed. However, we do our utmost to maintain efficiency, while following best practices as they evolve and keeping everyone safe. 
 
One positive thing to note is we actually expected slow progress in the beginning of spring because of weather, and factored this into our building schedule. Between the falling and melting of snow, the ground is quite soft - mushy to be blunt - and we anticipated this during our pre-construction phase.
 
Another positive note is the eager anticipation we are hearing from individuals, corporations, and the various levels of government regarding our project. While ensuring the availability of, and access to, food has always been one of our core values, food security has been thrust into the spotlight because of the realities we currently face due to COVID-19. Because growing tomatoes locally means being able to support our area even if borders close, we know that our plan for food supply is exactly what Dauphin, the Parkland, and Manitoba needs right now, and in the future.
 
The next step for us is to install the roof trusses on the warehouse, which you will get to see in an upcoming blog entry, as we document for you our journey to bringing tomatoes-on-the-vine from farm to table.
 
In the meantime, all of us here at Vermillion Growers wish you the best. Stay safe and stay well!
 

March Progress Update

 
March 19, 2020 
 
Every month, we are delighted to share with you information and progress regarding our exciting, state-of-the-art, greenhouse project in Dauphin, Manitoba. This month’s blog entry is bittersweet because our progress on site, which has been fantastic, has been overshadowed by the realities of how COVID-19 is affecting our community and world. As the coronavirus situation evolves rapidly, we are immediately responding with best practices to ensure health and safety for everyone involved with Vermillion Growers and our community.
 
In our last update, we showed you the first of the erected walls of the warehouse. Since then, our amazing on-site crew has been working diligently, and we are thrilled to report that approximately 75% of the warehouse walls are now standing. Framing and erection of the remaining quarter is next, and then the exterior walls will be complete.
 
One thing to remember about our warehouse is just how big a part of the overall project it is: The warehouse has a site footprint of 250 feet by 70 feet, and the exterior walls are 20 feet high!
 
Our roof trusses, which we are not storing on site until we need them, will be installed once all of the walls are completed.
 
We look forward with optimism as we continue to invest in food, people, and community. Stay well, everyone!
 
 

Sustainability - Part Two

February 19, 2020 
 
In many of our discussions with investors, partners, and other interested parties, we often mention that when we are up and running we will deliver tomatoes from farm to table in 24 hours. Part of why we hand-picked Dauphin, Manitoba as the site for our state-of-the-art greenhouse is our ability to deliver to the Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Northwestern Ontario markets with farm fresh tomatoes in 24 hours. By reducing the reliance on transportation of imported tomatoes from places such as Mexico and California, we help reduce the carbon footprint of our food consumption.
 
According to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Ministry of the Federal Government, tomatoes have been the largest fresh vegetable import in Canada (on a per metric tonne basis) for five years in a row (2014-2018). As of this writing, we don’t yet have the numbers for 2019, but In 2018, Canada imported $416,007,000 of tomatoes and of that amount, $297,814,000 was imported from Mexico. By producing and selling vegetables locally from Dauphin, we will displace some of these imports. This will lower the total amount of carbon emissions produced as a result of trucking tomatoes a shorter distance when compared to transporting from Mexico and other countries.
 
In addition to reducing the carbon footprint from transportation, we will be stripping the carbon dioxide from the exhaust gas of our boilers which will provide heat for the greenhouse. This carbon dioxide is then pumped into the growing area. By doing this, we are limiting carbon emissions that would otherwise be expelled into the atmosphere. In addition to the environmental benefit, this process allows us to improve the yields in the greenhouse as the plants use the carbon dioxide as food via photosynthesis. We are committed to ensuring that the triple bottom line of protecting people, planet, and profit is our priority. Reduced emissions and increased efficiency benefit not only Vermillion Growers, but the community and planet as a whole!
 

LET THERE BE WALLS

January 28, 2020

Progress Update 

Vermillion Growers has reached a milestone in the construction of its commercial greenhouse and would like to acknowledge the work that has gone into the project to date. Horizon Builders has been an integral part of the first phase of construction, taking on the General Contractor Role and achieving initial construction objectives, including all foundation work for the warehouse, despite challenging weather conditions early on in the season.

“We are happy to have been able to work with Manitoban companies in this phase of our construction,” says Vermillion Growers Managing Director, Maria Deschauer.

“Horizon has played a key role in getting this state-of-the-art greenhouse project off the ground,” she adds.

Vermillion Growers will continue construction with Winnipeg Environmental and Remediation Inc. (WERI), who has been involved from the beginning of the first phase of construction, and transitions immediately to the next phase. WERI has completed backfill of the warehouse area and continues to complete topsoil stripping and work on retention ponds. The site is now seeing the walls of the warehouse go up this week, with trusses arriving by month’s end.

Anyone interested in learning more about the greenhouse construction timeline is encouraged to contact us by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at (204) 701-0120.

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VERMILLION GROWERS

Growing high quality produce, healthy people, and sustainable communities

ADDRESS

21 Second Avenue NW,
Dauphin, MB R7N 1H1

CONTACT

EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
PHONE: 204-701-0120

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