The Year of the Tomato!

 
January 19, 2021
 
Welcome to the Year of the Tomato!
 
Happy New Year from all of us at Vermillion Growers! This year promises to be the most exciting for all of us as we enter the year which will see our state-of-the-art glass greenhouse completed and the planting of our first crop - tomatoes on the vine. Out of an abundance of anticipatory excitement, we have unilaterally decided to declare this the Year of the Tomato! This excitement is not only for our project specifically, but for all of the direct and indirect impacts our project will have throughout Manitoba - growing food, people, and community.
 
We specifically want to take this opportunity to thank every one of our valued investors for all of their unwavering support. All of the progress we have made so far and the success we aspire to in this, the Year of the Tomato, could not exist without the generosity and support of our shareholders.
 
Throughout this year, growth will continue to proceed as quickly as possible, while respecting all public health guidelines and restrictions. We will continue to update everyone through this blog, especially with some fantastic photos of the work-in-progress construction of Manitoba’s first greenhouse of its kind.

Winter Activity at Vermillion Growers

November 30, 2020

Manitobans love to joke, usually rather deadpan, that we only have two seasons: winter and construction. While we usually refer to construction as our suffering longer commute times due to road repairs, the idea that all construction ceases completely in the winter is inherent in the joke. And it is that idea which has prompted a number of folk to reach out and ask about our progress over the winter. As not only Investor Relations Specialist for Vermillion Growers, but also an investor IN the Vermillion state-of-the-art glass greenhouse project, I am happy to share current and projected progress for the winter in this month’s blog post.

 
Over the past number of months, we have documented and displayed our warehouse progress. The completion of the basic warehouse structure is no small feat on its own. Added to that is the important connection the warehouse will have to the greenhouse itself, given the logistics of moving tomatoes to the building from which the product will be transported to our customers. In addition, the warehouse will be home to the boilers for the greenhouse, making the warehouse a vital square on the board.
 
But what we are all most interested in, as we recognize COVID-19 delays and recent snowfalls portending winter, is what progress can and will be made over the winter months. I am delighted to share that the winter will be a flurry of activity on site on the greenhouse portion itself!
 
To be most clear and simple about work over the winter, we will be prepping soil for the installation of piles for the foundation of phase one of the greenhouse. Phase one includes the first 10 acres of actual growing area everyone is eagerly anticipating, plus approximately two acres to house administration and the amazing irrigation technology which makes our project so “state-of-the-art.” In fact, it is the irrigation components, such as tanks, pumps, and treatment which will occupy the majority of those additional two acres. Once the soil has been prepped, we will actually be installing the piles. One of the benefits of the type of piles we chose, called screw piles, is we can install them over winter!
 
In the photo below, you see machinery and crew on site, hard at work prepping soil for phase one of the greenhouse.
 
 
And here, our drone is flying over the phase one 10 acre growing area with the warehouse in the distance. The soil is being prepped for the screw pile foundation.
 
 
 
Over the coming months, we’ll continue to share with you our excitement of seeing the actual greenhouse constructed.
 
In the meantime, stay warm, stay safe, and stay well. If you have questions about our project, please contact us at any time.
 
Cheers!
Aaron
 
 
 

Vermillion Growers and Assiniboine Community College Sign Memorandum of Understanding

October 25, 2020

In our Blog, we often refer to our tagline of Growing Food, Growing People, and Growing Communities. Today we have the privilege of sharing the marriage of all three in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Brandon, Manitoba’s Assiniboine Community College (ACC). Brandon is a vibrant city about as far south from us in Dauphin as it is west of Winnipeg, a locale we are happy to consider part of our community. This MOU benefits us greatly in two ways - research, and an expert addition to our advisory board.

Research is vital to every industry, and the organizations which conduct research are the leaders in their own industry. At Vermillion Growers, we are proud to already have the expertise from existing state of the art glass greenhouses, similar to our project in Dauphin, guiding us to success. Complementing the guidance and contributing to our success will be local research.

Heading up that research is Vermillion Growers Advisory Board Member, Dr. Poonam Singh, BSc, MSc, PhD. Dr. Singh, Faculty at ACC, is working in an area quite unique to our industry at ACC: Applied Research. This means the research goes beyond the academic classroom and into the greenhouse! Working within ACC’s own greenhouse, Dr. Singh will be researching how additional oxygen in the rootzone can affect plants’ efficiency and productivity, and how pest management can be further utilized to improve plant health and maximize yield.

Dr. Singh is passionate about local food and contributing toward the success of businesses such as Vermillion Growers. “I have seen the greenhouses in the Netherlands, British Columbia, and Ontario,” Dr. Singh says, “and local research is important because of environmental differences.”

The MOU means Vermillion Growers has direct access not only to the experience and expertise of Dr. Singh, but her active and continuing applied research as well. As we continue build and growth, we will be happy to share more about the relationship we have forged, and the contribution to our success.

For further information on Dr. Poonam Singh, please visit 
https://assiniboine.net/community/about-us/applied-research/poonam-singh-bsc-msc-phd

Growing People: The Vermillion Growers Team

September 28, 2020

This month we introduce a new series for our blog. Considering our tagline, “Growing Food, Growing People, Growing Communities,” we will focus on the center one – Growing People – and introduce you to some of the most valuable resources we have at Vermillion.

This month, we want you to learn more about the person who, day to day, manages our build, from design process to boots-on-the-ground construction. Designing and building Manitoba’s first greenhouse of its kind requires someone with attention to detail at the helm, passion for our industry, and a strong engineering background. Add the ability to communicate with a variety of audiences, from workers to vendors to owners, and the complete description matches our Project Engineer.

Enter Cormac Foster, EIT, Manitoba born, bred, and educated. EIT stands for, “Engineer In Training”, but let’s be clear: Cormac is an Engineer, through and through. In fact, Cormac has always been a builder. It all started with Lego when Cormac was a baby.

“I’ve got pictures of me in diapers, sitting on the ground, with a pile of (Lego) bricks around me,” he proudly claims.

Cormac learned about the building blocks and their use, and further declared his passion for building and engineering as genuine and practical by pursuing a Biological Systems Engineering Degree from the University of Manitoba, with a specific study of Environmental Engineering. This background assists Vermillion Growers significantly, as Cormac’s knowledge guides and assists us through our specific project of precision agriculture in our state-of-the-art glass greenhouse.

“A greenhouse is very different than a typical commercial project,” Cormac says. “You have to be thinking about, ‘how does every aspect of the building, on the design side, affect the growth of a plant,’ ” he relates.

Beyond his education, and before he came to work with us, Cormac worked on a cold climate greenhouse prototype, has construction experience, and has worked with food sustainability. All of these meld into the perfect combination for our needs, and all reasons we love having Cormac as our Project Engineer. One of the most unique aspects of Cormac’s life was being a contestant on the second season of CTV’s Amazing Race Canada. Teamed up with his Mom, Cormac embarked on a competitive journey, filled with obstacles and detours. What Cormac learned from the race is a life lesson he applies to his work on a daily basis. As Cormac, puts it,

“The life experience I really did gain from that is just strengthening my ability to be adaptable.”

The first non-principal team member at Vermillion Growers, Cormac is able to draw on his adaptability as he negotiates tough challenges, COVID-19 being merely one of them, all while managing a team to build our project from the ground up. Cormac, like all of us at Vermillion Growers, believes in a good work-life balance. When not at work, he enjoys the outdoors – camping and canoeing, especially. And he maintains a pretty impressive Lego collection. He still builds with Lego, as he tempers his engineering and building interests with a little creativity.

At the same time, Cormac’s personal desire to make a difference in the world of food sovereignty links his passion for Vermillion Growers’ triple bottom line of protecting people, planet, and profit to working with us. He also personally maintains a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and nutrition. Like all of us, Cormac can’t wait for when our first phase is complete and we are up and running.

“I’m looking forward to when we can have a crate of fresh tomatoes, in the middle of winter, to add to my meal prep."

 

Our Build Continues Despite Covid 19 Challenges

August 31, 2020

Over the past months, we have all been inundated with COVID-19 related material. From protocols on social distancing, to the number of cases since we first heard about coronavirus, nothing has affected us as a society this year as much as COVID-19 has. Obviously, Vermillion Growers is not immune to the effects of COVID-19. Indeed, our project has been delayed a few months because social distancing requirements on our construction site have slowed our still steady progress.

 
There are all kinds of effects of the pandemic that many people don’t see, and we thought it would be interesting to share merely two of the often unseen challenges we are weathering, in good stride, mind you.
 
1. Supplies. Remember in the early days of COVID-19 it was difficult to secure a number of items at the grocery store? Those shortages were due to a number of issues, but we have similarly been challenged by one fascinating shortage: shipping containers. We have selectively chosen to work with specific vendors, leaders in the industry, some of which are in Europe. Because of the shortage of European shipping containers, some of our orders of components for the greenhouse are delayed. This has been a contributing factor in revising our build schedule. In realistic terms, this means even with a delay, we are still on track to meeting our goal of growing food, people, and community with our project in Manitoba’s Parkland Region.
 
2. Prices. We know that markets worldwide have been volatile during the COVID pandemic. As a result, we have witnessed fluctuating prices in quotes for imported material as a result of fluctuating currency exchange rates, thanks to the severe economic impact that COVID-19 has had on global markets.The good news is that these fluctuations are well within our planned  parameters, allowing us to absorb them.
 
There are many obvious, and not so visible, challenges as a result of COVID-19. Regardless of these challenges, we actively press forward with construction on our site, as we continue to build!

VERMILLION GROWERS

Growing high quality produce, healthy people, and sustainable communities

ADDRESS

21 Second Avenue NW,
Dauphin, MB R7N 1H1

CONTACT

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PHONE: 204-701-0120

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