Australia: LPG Partners with Le Fresh Hydroponics

It’s a family affair at the Le Fresh farm, where husband and wife duo Van and Tracey Le and their daughter Teresa grow crunchy cucumbers and succulent cherry tomatoes. Located just north of Adelaide in Virginia, SA, Le Fresh Hydroponics incorporates a 3-hectare protected greenhouse and a packing facility.

That’s where LaManna Premier Group comes in – they are exclusive partners of Le Fresh Produce, supporting them with marketing, distribution, quality, and technical advice, as well as bringing their continental cucumbers and cherry tomatoes to supermarkets and fruit stores around the country. LPG analyses what people are buying to create forecasts of future demand, which the team at Le Fresh then uses to determine what they grow and in what quantities. This method of growing to market requirements results in a more sustainable supply chain, with less produce going to waste.

Sustainability is fundamental at the Le Fresh farm: Van and Tracey were among the first to bring it to the region when they started out some ten years ago. This farming technique cuts out soil and instead delivers a nutrient-rich water-based solution directly to plant roots, reducing the amount of water required. For example, field-grown tomatoes require 400 liters of water to produce one kilo of fruit, while hydroponically grown tomatoes need only 70 liters to produce that amount. The protected environment of the greenhouse also significantly improves farming efficiency by shielding the plants from adverse weather conditions and harmful bugs that can damage the fruit, minimizing the amount of wasted produce. After growing their produce sustainably, the Le family strives to pack it sustainably, too: their packing facility is currently testing a cherry tomato punnet made from cardboard instead of plastic.

The ongoing partnership brings great benefit to both sides: LPG can rely on Le Fresh’s supply of produce, while Tracey and Van are provided with all the support they need – not only to keep their farm running at its best but also to experiment and expand in new and exciting directions.

And experimenting is something of a passion at the Le Fresh farm. Tracey in particular, loves putting her background in chemistry to use in breeding new plant strains. She is joined in this pursuit by her daughter Teresa, who has followed in her mother’s footsteps, recently graduating with a Bachelor of Science majoring in chemistry. She shares Tracey’s passion for testing and developing new strains, with Van stepping in as their chief taste tester: “We all end up being guinea pigs for these new varieties – we have to try them to know if they’re any good!” Van is also training Teresa up in the business side of things, excited for her to take over as the family’s successor in the future.

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