From May 22nd to 25th, the 4th edition of the Open Greenhouse Operation was held at the national level, coordinated by AOPn (Association of French Tomato and Cucumber Producers). For the occasion, 23 greenhouses opened their doors to schools and to the general public. “The first year, we had 800 visitors. 2,700 in 2018 and this year, our objective to reach 3,000 was largely exceeded with 3,318 visitors,” says Nadège Bottazzo, of the French tomato and cucumber AOPn.
The modern greenhouses of Adrien Quaak, Kultive producer, in the Loire Valley
“Promoting the French know-how of our producers”
“The idea came to organize this meeting between producers and the general public 4 years ago in order to defeat the preconceived ideas about greenhouse productions. In other words, it was a way to say to the public: ‘Come meet us, we will answer all your questions because we have nothing to hide.’”
The initial goal was to present the French producers’ know-how and technical skills, generally unknown to the consumer. But the objective of the event now also is to “promote the quality of our products which are the result of a real work on taste in France for the past few years.”
Moreover, the open greenhouses are a way to present the profession to the young generations interested in the agricultural field. “We thought it was important to communicate through this operation that the greenhouse industry is recruiting.”
“Many arrive with preconceived ideas, and leave asking us why we do not have the organic label”
The open greenhouses give rise to many questions. “The one that comes up the most often is the question of the connection to the ground: why do we produce off the ground and not in the ground, or even in the fields? We are also asked many phytosanitary questions. Visitors are always very surprised by the natural aspect of our productions."
"They often come with a very industrial image of greenhouse production, but when they learn that we use integrated pest management and bumblebees for pollination, they are usually very surprised. We also get many technical questions. Visitors are amazed by the extensive amount of human intervention, often unsuspected. But in the end, what surprises them the most is the taste.”
Greenhouse production: a topic of interest
Statistics and the quality of the exchanges reflect the interest of the general public in the topic, and producers are just as satisfied with the operation. “Some of those who took part in the event for the first time this year were a little worried about getting started. But today, they are excited to renew the experience because it was such a pleasure to welcome people and answer their questions. The exchange was very rewarding for both the public and the producers.”