At Hofer, Austrian tomatoes are now in season permanently

Regional vegetables despite freezing temperatures

For Austrian consumers, regional products are important when selecting food products. Naturally, in winter, the share of regional products on the vegetable shelves is smaller than in the warm months. However, the demand for local vegetables is still high in the colder season. For this reason, the producers of the "GEO Gemüseerzeugerorganisation Ostösterreich" and "LGV Frischgemüse" have been reacting to current trends with year-round production of Austrian tomatoes. Starting this winter, they will bring more regional selections into the Hofer vegetable department, even when it is icy cold outside. In addition to this, they are planning to expand the range of winter production snack cucumbers.

Image: Hofer

Tomatoes from the Marchfeld farm all year round at Hofer
"Our tomatoes are now in season twelve months a year," says the Lower Austrian master grower Peter Kainz, who has been producing local tomatoes year-round in Obersiebenbrunn since this winter. The idea for winter production was developed by Kainz, together with horticulturist Patrick Haider, chairman of the GEO vegetable producer organization Eastern Austria. "Nurseries abroad have been breeding various types of all-weather vegetables for a long time. We acquired this know-how and wanted to transfer it to our in-house conditions. The biggest challenge is maintaining quality," says Kainz. Uniform growth of the tomato plants in the cold season is made possible by special winter lighting - generated by green electricity from the surrounding wind turbines. The delicate plantlets are put in mineral substrates such as coconut fiber and tied to special strings.

Currently, work is underway to ensure that Austrian snack cucumbers will also be available throughout the year in the Hofer branches. These are to be produced in winter in the nursery of LGV master grower Martin Flicker in Vienna-Donaustadt. It is not simply a question of transferring the winter farming methods of foreign competitors to Austria, says Flicker, because the requirements and standards for local vegetables are significantly higher and therefore more expensive.
 
In his nursery, manual work is very important. Every morning, the master grower does his rounds through the greenhouses, which are 4.2 hectares in total: "I hold almost every single plant in my hands, feel whether it is too moist or dry, examine it for possible fungal spores. And I also notice whether it is stressed."

Source: Hofer Österreich

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