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Why one of Canada's largest vegetable producers has entered the cannabis industry

Before the family behind one of Canada’s greenhouse vegetable growing operations got into cannabis, they had two concerns. The first was fears about how some of their U.S. competitors might react and if they would use the company’s cannabis position against them, says Jamie D’Alimonte, the CEO of Ontario-based DelFrescoPure, which grows and markets greenhouse tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries.

Two, and more pressing, was the matriarch of the family’s position. “My grandmother actually was with our company right up until she passed away four years ago,” D’Alimonte says. “She was really, you know, the typical old-fashioned Grandma and she really wanted nothing to do with the industry or the product. She was really kind of the last reason why we decided not to do it. When she passed, we thought it was just the right time to get into the industry.”

In 2018, Greenway Greenhouse Cannabis was incorporated and D’Alimonte was named CEO. The company is majority-owned by Sunrite Greenhouses Ltd., an established cultivator of greenhouse-grown produce. D’Alimonte likens the company’s entry into cannabis to when he first joined the family business in 1990. “Back then, our industry had about 100 acres of greenhouses, and today we’re almost pushing 4,000,” he says. “So it’s really in its infancy within Canada and maybe, hopefully, the U.S.”

As a subsidiary of the Del Fresco Group of companies, Greenway benefits from more than six decades of greenhouse growing experience, capital assets and operational support. Still, D’Alimonte says the company is starting slowly as it plants its cannabis roots.

“I really believe that the square footage race that we saw over the last two years was the wrong approach on everything,” he says. “With our new products, we always start with 2,000 or 5,000 square feet. Perfect the product, grow it properly and then scale up slowly. That’s our mindset.”

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