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Nature Fresh Farms taking mini-greenhouse to show floorRather than take attendees of the United Fresh 2014 show to the greenhouse, Nature Fresh Farms Inc. is bringing the greenhouse to attendees.

The Leamington, Ontario-based based grower-packer of greenhouse vegetables plans to have a fully operational small-scale greenhouse filled with tomato plants at its booth, No. 861.

Peter Quiring, president, said he came up with the idea after talking with several retail buyers.

“In those discussions, I discovered that they had never actually been to a greenhouse because of their busy schedules,” he said.

“So not only did we want to bring the greenhouse to the general public as an educational piece, but we also wanted to bring the greenhouse out to the retailers who didn’t have an opportunity to come out to a larger greenhouse.”

The structure on display at United won’t be static, either.

Every 15 minutes or so, one of the company’s head growers will don a microphone and explain how produce is grown in a greenhouse.

“When it comes to the day to day operations and how things function, it’s good to have someone there who can talk about it, who can say, ‘Come into my shop. Let me tell you what I do in my world every day,’” said Ray Wowryk, director of business development.

The firm’s biologist will also discuss environmentally friendly practices, such as integrated pest management. Beneficial insects, for example, are frequently released in the greenhouse to control unwanted pests.

Visitors also will be able to view a working bee hive through a clear plastic cut-away. The bees help pollinate crops, such as greenhouse cucumbers.

Nature Fresh Farms first displayed the miniature greenhouse at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair last November in Toronto. The week-long event, which is more consumer oriented than the United Fresh show, drew about 350,000 attendees.

The response was overwhelming, Wowryk said.

“We were amazed at the number of people that weren’t aware of the complexity involved in farming produce in a greenhouse environment,” he said.

The small-scale greenhouse, as well as about 1,500 acres of other greenhouses in eastern Canada and the U.S., was built by Nature Fresh Farms’ sister company, South Essex Fabricating Inc., Wowryk said.