US (NY): Good expectations for lit season at Intergrow Greenhouses

In 1998, 'local-for-local' was not yet such a well-known term. It was then that Dirk Biemans started Intergrow Greenhouses in Fillmore, New York, with three other greenhouse growers from Belgium and the Netherlands. Since then, the business has grown from its first 6 hectare greenhouse, to an area of 28 hectares. Here, thanks to supplemental lighting, beefsteak-tomatoes, tomatoes-on-the-vine, cherry tomatoes and snack tomatoes are cultivated year round. "We supply the local market , even when that sometimes means a ten-hour drive."


Dirk Biemans at the PMA

"When we started in this area, many tomatoes were being imported from the Benelux to this region. Nowadays, there are no Dutch tomatoes on the market here anymore. This is as a result of the expansion of the Canadian and Mexican production", says Dirk. "We can distinguish ourselves by growing 'locally'. We can also guarantee that the tomatoes will be in the shops 24 hours after harvest. We mainly supply supermarkets in the north east of the US, between New York, Washington DC and Chicago." 

The biggest challenge for intrgrow is labour. "You simply cannot offer seasonal workers employment all year", says states Dirk. He, and co-owner, Mario van Logten, are based permanently at the business. The other two owners, Dirk van den Plas and John Vermeiren, come over to the US on a regular basis. Cultivating tomatoes at Intergrow Greenhouses is done the 'Dutch" way, with varieties that are commonplace in the Netherlands and Belgium. At the moment, the company is introducing the Mixed Medley, which are snack tomatoes, at the PMA. 


Mixed Medley tomatoes

"Currently we are in the transition period from the natural light season to the supplemented lighting season. The natural light season was a bit of a disappointment. Since we had less light, the crops were somewhat smaller. The forecast for the supplemental lighting season is quite good. This is despite the fact that winter prices are lower than we have been used to over the past few years", says Dirk. Expansion to other categories or strawberries is not, according to Dirk, on the cards yet. "But things can always change."

For more information:
Dirk Biemans
Intergrow Greenhouses
2428 Oak Orchard Rd.
Albion, NY 14411
dirk.biemans@intergrowgreenhouses.com
www.intergrowgreenhouses.com



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