Certified Greenhouse Farmers’ Membership in Mexico Grows
By Grocery Headquarters Staff
Certified Greenhouse Farmers (CGF) presence in Mexico is growing again as the association welcomes Querétaro producers who have achieved certification though NSF International. CGF extended their membership to include producers from Mexico in August 2013 and it has experienced steady growth ever since, with demand for certification exceeding association expectations. “We’re very pleased to welcome HortiGen and Veggie Prime to the growing membership of Certified Greenhouse Farmers who are differentiating their greenhouse operations by meeting rigorous standards in food safety, sustainability, product segregation, and traceback,” says Ed Beckman, CGF president. HortiGen is a new 32-acre completely enclosed greenhouse that produces tomatoes and peppers. Constructed of energy efficient double poly, the greenhouse uses computer technology to monitor the environment, irrigation system and trending of pest monitoring that is part of their comprehensive Integrated Pest Management program. Veggie Prime employs state of the art hydroponics, integrated pest management and energy and temperature efficient programs in their double poly constructed greenhouse. The company recycles irrigation water and uses energy curtains to preserve heat. Veggie Prime produces tomatoes year-round. The two newest members are located in the Agropark, a conglomeration of high-tech greenhouses located in the State of Querétaro. The Agropark is a high-tech greenhouse cluster designed to provide ideal conditions and the latest technology in order to enable producers to successfully grow high quality hydroponic greenhouse vegetables that meet the demands of customers in the United States and Canada. Beckman says that the organization’s immediate goal for Mexico was to realize 200 acres of certified greenhouses in their first year there. “To date, over 250 acres in Mexico have been certified. Farmers recognize that certification enables a high-tech greenhouse to differentiate their product in a competitive marketplace,” he says. Certified greenhouse acreage in Mexico is also growing as the result of CGF members expanding their operations to meet the increasing demand for controlled environment greenhouse-grown tomatoes and peppers. “Much of the growth is in Querétaro. However, that will change as farmers from other growing regions who have applied for membership are certified. We are expecting to have additional members by early summer,” says Beckman. To achieve certification, greenhouses undergo food safety, structural and sustainability audits. CGF members are required to report energy consumption, document water conservation efforts, detail and illustrate the use of greenhouse-focused integrated pest management, report any pesticide use and document recycling of both agriculture and non-agriculture wastes. All auditing is done by NSF International, which was appointed by CGF as its primary certifier. NSF’s determinations are independent of CGF and are considered final.