Have you thought about growing greenhouse vegetables for a luxury clientele? – Urban Ag News

Serge Boon, founder of Boon Greenhouse Consultancy, said growers who are interested in selling to a luxury clientele, including resorts, restaurants and individuals, should be able to offer exceptional quality products. Photos courtesy of Brush Creek Ranch

An increasing number of luxury resorts, restaurants and wealthy people have started operating their own greenhouses to produce the fruits and vegetables they want to prepare and consume.

While many restaurants across the country have lost sales or ceased to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, some have had no problem maintaining their customer base. Serge Boon, founder of Boon Greenhouse Consultancy in Hendersonville, NC, said he has seen an increase in business for restaurants and resorts serving high-end customers. He also noted a growing demand from people who want to set up greenhouse programs to produce crops that are not readily available to ensure that they have a steady supply of quality food.

“These include luxury resorts that hire chefs who want certain types of fruits and vegetables,” Boon said. “Many of these luxury resorts are looking to produce their own food so that they have more control over what is available and the quality of the food produced. This allows these companies to be less dependent on external suppliers. Producing your own food allows these companies to offer guests a luxurious dining experience. ”

Boon said the pandemic did not have much effect on its customers, who wanted to increase their food security by producing their own crops.

“Grocery stores that had supply issues had less food,” he said. “If someone has the opportunity and the ability to build their own greenhouse, so that food can be produced throughout the year, which eliminates the need to rely on what is available in grocery stores. This is a growing market, no matter what happens with the pandemic. “

Luxury resorts and restaurants seek to produce their own food, giving them more control over what is available and the quality of the food produced.

Quality, quantity and variety control

A major advantage for companies that start producing their own food is that they can control the quality and do not have to buy and bring so much food every day.

“These companies can tailor the type of products and quality they want for their menus,” Boon said. “Chefs provide a lot of information about what is grown in companies’ greenhouses. This is almost the opposite of how it normally works for many restaurants. In general, chefs need to take what is available from local producers and suppliers. In the case of these high-end restaurants, which operate their own greenhouses, the chefs ask that specific varieties be grown for them. ”

Boon, who was a farmer for the luxury resort of Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming, said most of the companies and people he works with have built smaller greenhouses from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet. The greenhouse at Brush Creek Ranch is a 20,000-square-foot unit that is used year-round to grow fresh produce.

“A large percentage of the crops grown are for domestic use,” Boon said. “About half of the greenhouse owners I work with operate their own restaurants. In most cases, they produce for their own restaurants or for their own consumption. There is only one hand that sells commercial products.

“There are people who can afford to build a greenhouse because they are looking for certain fruits and vegetables that would normally be hard to find. They want to support themselves by cultivating their own food on the land they bought. They hire someone to grow produce and cook to prepare their food. ”

Boon said some of these wealthy individuals want certain crops grown on their property for personal consumption, as it may be difficult to get supplies from local farmers or suppliers.

“They will produce fresh, pesticide-free products all year round,” he said. “There are people who want specific products all year round, such as locally grown heritage tomatoes that are not available, so they have to grow them themselves.”

Production requirements

Boon said that any food crop can be grown in a greenhouse, it only depends on whether it makes economic sense to produce it.

“For companies and people I work with, it’s more like they want certain crops and then build a greenhouse so they can produce them,” he said. “It’s important if they want to produce those crops all year round. Wanting to inherit tomatoes all year round is different than just wanting them in the summer. ”

Some of the crops grown by resorts, restaurants and individuals in their own greenhouses include specialty broccoli, rainbow carrots, old tomatoes, mushrooms, specialty herbs and edible flowers.

Boon is designing a succession plan for crops that will be grown year-round and seasonally.

“We determine how much should be planted each week in order to provide a certain yield,” he said. “We anticipate yields throughout the year to determine where and when crops should be planted. We make a specific internal plan in terms of crops, ie two rows of tomatoes, two rows of peppers in an area. In the next area they can plant strawberries. We show them how to set up production areas and how to run them ”.

Boon said he was sometimes asked to design a greenhouse for a crop he had not grown.

“I will research the crops to see what the crop production requirements are,” he said. “Occasionally I am asked about unknown cultures and then I have to research the best way to cultivate a certain culture. Sometimes it doesn’t make economic sense, but if they can afford to grow the crop and the need is there, it can be done. “

Boon said it can also help with cultural best practices for crop production.

“We can guide them through the entire production plan,” he said. “This varies between customers, because if you hire an experienced grower, you don’t have to do that. Sometimes, from scratch, we help with crop planning and production. ”

Greenhouses, production system options

Boon said that in most cases he advises customers to grow in soil-free or hydroponic substrates for ease of management.

“We advise them on their options for producing the crops they want to grow and give them a list of pros and cons,” he said. “In terms of environmental control, it may be more difficult to provide specific climatic conditions for each of these specialty crops. The larger the greenhouse, the more areas can be created and the more we can adapt the environment for crops.

“Because some of these smaller greenhouses are growing more crops, there must be some of them. There is so much variability between crops that it is difficult to provide the best growing conditions for each crop. Most of these companies install the same type of sophisticated environmental control systems that are used in most commercial greenhouse operations. These are literally a smaller version of commercial greenhouses with only many different crops. ”

Most of the companies and individuals that Serge Boon worked with built greenhouses measuring between 5,000 and 20,000 square meters.

Production opportunities for growers

Boon said growers who are interested in selling to these luxury customers should be able to provide these resorts, restaurants and individuals with exceptional quality products.

“We really need this kind of product,” he said. “It is becoming increasingly difficult to find some of these crops in certain areas. Examples include specialty broccoli, rainbow carrots, inherited tomatoes, mushrooms, specialty herbs, and edible flowers.

“Cultivators interested in serving this clientele must know their market. They need to know the luxury customer base that is close to them, including sports clubs, resorts and restaurants. Manufacturers need to determine the needs of these potential customers for specialty products. Manufacturers need to do market research first before they start building a greenhouse. ”

Boon said that this luxury clientele is a growing market.

“These are people who want to have greenhouses in their backyards so that they always have fresh produce available, rather than being dependent on growers and suppliers outside the United States,” he said. “I do not believe in the transportation of fresh produce worldwide. Right now, this scale market is for those people who can afford to grow their own produce. Over time, I hope that more people will be involved in growing their own food. ”

For more: Boon Greenhouse Consultant,

This article is owned by Urban Ag News and was written by David Kuack, a freelance technical writer from Fort Worth, Texas. Have you thought about growing greenhouse vegetables for a luxury clientele? – Urban Ag News

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