(May 11) MONTREAL — A true North American hydroponic lettuce powerhouse is taking shape, with the potential to eventually supply the entire continent with living boston lettuce year-round.

To hasten expansion plans, Mirabel, Quebec-based HydroSerre Mirabel Inc. has partnered with California stalwart Tanimura & Antle and NEXT, the largest greenhouse lettuce producer in Mexico, formerly known as Vegetlan.

Lettuce in clamshells with the root ball still attached, promising fresher flavor, is the main product line, although herbs and delicate specialty leafy items are on the menu, said Martin Desrochers, president of HydroSerre Mirabel.

Throwing their weight behind the project at the May 9 Montreal launch of the partnership were two agribusiness giants, Rick Antle, chief executive officer of Salinas, Calif.-based Tanimura & Antle Inc., and Cristobal Fox, representative of Leon, Mexico-based NEXT and the brother of former Mexican president Vicente Fox.

The first area of expansion is the already-announced Tennessee project of HydroSerre Mirabel. The initial phase of the greenhouse, 12.5 acres due to be in production by February, is but the first of four identical greenhouses in Livingston, Tenn. In all, the projects will cost $50 million and will produce 50 million heads of lettuce annually, Desrochers said.

With operations in Quebec, Tennessee and Mexico, the firm aims to provide excellent coverage of the East Coast, he said. Within the next year, the partnership may add a Western U.S. greenhouse operation, he said.

“As consumers look more and more at sustainability and food miles we need to put the production closer to them,” Antle said.