Canada is the North American leader of greenhouse fruit and vegetable production.
The Canadian greenhouse fruit and vegetable sector continues to experience strong growth to meet the rising, year-round demand for safe, nutritious, high-quality, and sustainable fresh fruit and vegetables.
The sector contributes an estimated $4 billion annually to the Canadian economy. With over $2 billion in farm gate sales, approximately $1.3 billion in exports in 2021, and an estimated 30,500 total jobs supported throughout the supply-chain, the sector is an agricultural powerhouse and leader of greenhouse produce in North America.
As leaders in sustainable agriculture, greenhouse vegetable growers are dedicated to excellence and are known for their early adoption of high-tech innovation. Several defining practices within their environment-controlled production systems, demonstrate their environmental sustainability:
- The majority of growers use energy-efficient natural gas boiler systems for an on-demand, on-farm supply of the crop’s requirements for both heat and carbon dioxide (CO2).
- Investment in on-farm energy assets, such as co-generation systems (reliable on-farm supply of heat, carbon dioxide to the plants, and electricity for crop lighting), further increase energy efficiency of the natural gas-powered system.
- Computerized, climate-controlled systems provide optimal growing conditions: the indoor CO2 levels supplied from the natural gas boiler to the crop are continually measured and maintained at the best levels for photosynthesis, fruit quality, improved crop health and yield.
- Growing technology and hydroponic systems* mean that up to ten times less water is required than the same crop grown in a field. Closed-loop recirculation systems ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ the irrigation water and fertilizers.
- Over 732K metric tons of fresh greenhouse fruit and vegetables is grown annually on only 1800 hectares (4470 acres). Marketable yields are 10-20 times that of the same crop grow outdoors primarily due to the extended growing season, reduced pest pressure, and overall quality.
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs rely heavily on biosecurity measures, biological controls, and beneficial insects which significantly reduces the use of traditional pesticides, and,
- Verified, third-party audited programs for food safety, housing, worker safety, and pesticide use.
Canada’s 892 fruit and vegetable greenhouses grow primarily tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers. Major growth opportunities are anticipated from increased investment in year-round lit production and expanded crop/variety offerings, new and expanded opportunities in export markets, automation in the workplace, and developing a skilled and adaptive workforce ready to mitigate risks associated with emerging threats, or market disruption.
*In Canadian organic greenhouse production soil and amendments are used in place of hydroponics.
Canadian Greenhouse Excellence Network
CGEN is a national, sector-led initiative to mobilize expertise, research, and innovation by connecting stakeholders at the critical intersection of food production, energy, and the environment.
CGEN is a national, sector-led network to mobilize expertise, research, and innovation by connecting stakeholders at the critical intersection of food production, energy, and the environment.
Key Information and Reports
The Canadian Greenhouse Excellence Network (CGEN) is a strategic initiative of the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada’s Greenhouse Vegetable Working Group (GVWG) to advance collective opportunities towards the vision for Canada as a world leader in sustainable agriculture and agri-food.
CGEN’s primary purpose is to solve complex challenges that meets the triple bottom line of sustainability (economic, environmental, social). CGEN will enhance research and innovation collaborations, improve knowledge transfer, and drive smart and sustainable investments needed by various stakeholders (growers, allied-industry, academia/educational institutions, governments, and consumers).
CGEN, as a central hub – a connector of people and expertise, will be designed to include functional components such as:
- Facilitated point of connection for growers, researchers, and private solutions providers;
- Dedicated Knowledge Translation & Transfer (KTT) mobilization
- Support to help navigate a pathway for commercialization;
- Data generation, cyber-security, and management;
- Youth engagement and resources to support their career path in the sector;
- Multi-institutional learning, integrated credentialing program.
Our sector’s unique roadmap requires the energy, technology, and infrastructure options to supply greenhouse crops with the heat, carbon dioxide, and electricity needed to grow year-round and secure fresh fruit and vegetables for Canadians and consumers around the world.
CGEN will bring people and expertise together to help underpin our sector’s ability to contribute to the Government of Canada’s vision for a low-carbon economy, its ambitious GHG emissions reduction targets for 2030, and the transition to net-zero by 2050.
The Canadian Greenhouse Excellence Network (CGEN) will ultimately contribute to the shared vision for Canada as a world leader in sustainable agriculture and agri-food.
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We have received sector-wide support and an alignment of our objectives, timelines, and resources in our initial stakeholder engagement phase. As we shift into network design, we continue to engage with our key partners and experts to ensure CGEN has a strong foundation including the online hub, network architecture, governance, and funding mechanisms to begin building working components that demonstrate value and deliver tangible benefits to stakeholders.
Greenhouse Vegetable Working Group
FVGC and its greenhouse vegetable members representing growers from British Columbia, Prairies, Ontario, Québec, and Atlantic, work closely with a range of stakeholders and government partners to help inform policy and regulatory decisions, support sector profitability and sustainability, maintain and enhance market access and trade, and ensure an innovative, competitive sector with a strong growth agenda. The Greenhouse Vegetable Working Group (GVWG) is actively addressing national priorities and emerging issues, including: trade, plant health, crop protection, research and innovation, energy, carbon pricing, climate change adaptation, GHG emissions reduction, labour and automation.
Chair: Linda Delli Santi Vice-Chair: Richard Lee
FVGC contact: Julie Paillat, National Coordinator, Greenhouse Vegetable Sector