Village Farms Expands U.S. Greenhouse Operations

Village Farms International, one of the largest producers, marketers and distributors of premium-quality, greenhouse-grown tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers in North America, has said it plans to build a new state-of-the-art greenhouse located in Monahans, Texas, during 2011.

The project, which broke ground in early June, will be the fifth greenhouse built by the company in Texas. It will be based on the company's proprietary technology, GATES, and is expected to begin production in early 2012.

The first of its kind, the GATES greenhouse has successfully operated over the past four years in nearby Marfa, Texas, according to Village Farms. Phase one of the Monahans greenhouse will incorporate a 30-acre production greenhouse, in addition to various other service buildings, including an advanced technology packing, sorting and distribution facility. The long-term plan is to build a total of 120 acres, on the 320-acre site.

The Monahans greenhouse will initially employ 80 to 100 people and bear a capital cost of approximately $42 million. Each consecutive phase would contribute approximately 30 acres of production area.

Like its existing GATES greenhouse in Marfa, Texas, the new Monahans greenhouse will provide year round supply. The additional capacity will enable Village Farms to diversify and expand its product offerings at its existing 122-acre facilities in Marfa and Fort Davis, Texas.

"Currently we face increased demand for our U.S. product because of the 'buy local' food movement," said CEO Michael DeGiglio. "Given the momentum of this cultural change, our new facility is well positioned to support our customers in this increased demand for regionally grown fresh premium produce."

The Monahans greenhouse will be based on a highly resource-efficient hydroponic growing system. In keeping with the company's "good for the earth" sustainability philosophy, the project is focused on water conservation, land preservation, food safety, integrated pest management, and reducing the overall carbon footprint. The greenhouse will recycle its water up to five times and utilize 86 percent less water compared to field tomato farming.

In addition, the Monahans greenhouse will receive a portion of its electricity needs from renewable wind power. It will use supplemental lighting and be among the first greenhouses in North America to use diffused roof glass capable of increasing yields over conventional clear glass.

The Monahans greenhouse will be the twelfth greenhouse that the company has developed, built, acquired or operated over the past 22 years, including projects in Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and Texas. In addition, the company owns and operates the largest greenhouse in Canada located outside of Vancouver British Columbia.

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