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Get to Know Heinen’s Midwest Greenhouse Growers

Get to Know Heinen’s Midwest Greenhouse Growers

This post was written by Heinen’s partner, Halle Snavely.

The winter and spring seasons can be tough for those of us who love local produce and live in the Midwest. After being cooped up inside all winter, all we want to do when spring finally arrives is get outside and eat fresh veggies grown close to home. Unfortunately, it’s not quite time yet.

That’s where greenhouses can help! By partnering with a number of greenhouse grower partners, we are able to make local produce accessible to our customers year-round. Greenhouses are also more sustainable than traditional farms on a number of key markers because they use less land, energy and water and generate less pollution and waste. They are also extremely efficient and can produce much higher yields for the amount of space they take up compared to traditional farms.

For example, our partner, Great Lakes Growers, notes that their greenhouse is equal to 25 acres of traditional farmland, and all of the water used in the growing operation is either recycled or released through the natural transpiration of the plants, so nothing goes to waste.

Plus, with advancements in LED lighting technology over the last several years, electricity costs have decreased considerably. This means a cloudy day or lack of rain doesn’t impact the growth cycle. Hydroponic crops use water and nutrients as a growing medium and never touch the soil or interact with pesticides, making them super clean as a result.

We partner with some of the best greenhouse growers in our region, which allows us to offer fresh, local produce, all year long. Let’s get to know them!

Great Lakes Growers Greenhouse

Great Lakes Growers

Located in Burton, Ohio, we have a long-standing relationship with Great Lakes Growers that has only, well, grown over the years. After running his family’s greenhouse business for six years, John Bonner founded Great Lakes Growers in 2012 off of a passion for offering clean, sustainable products to his community.

Having grown up on a farm and studied business administration in college, John had a desire to continue working in agriculture and developed a progressive business approach that combines his prior greenhouse experience with hydroponics and innovative ideas around production and product offerings. Today, his hydroponic greenhouse produces over 1.5 million heads of lettuce annually.

Great Lakes Growers has expanded their business over the time with an impressive line of high-quality lettuces and herbs, including living lettuce and basil and pre-cut and packaged lettuce. Harvested and shipped on the same day, you can rest assured that Great Lakes Growers produce is fresh and long lasting!

Products available at Heinen’s Ohio and Illinois locations.

Vigeo Gardens

Akron, Ohio-based Vigeo Gardens was launched in 2014 by Vincent Peterson, Jacob Craine and Mark Preston. Having worked in the restaurant industry, they saw an opportunity to provide high-quality greens to local restaurants.

While they have since expanded to basil, lettuces and salad blends, it’s their vision for microgreens that continues to set them apart. While tiny in size, these plants pack a serious nutritional punch, have a strong flavor profile and an incredibly short growth cycle.

Since diving into the world of microgreens, Vigeo Gardens has developed a highly efficient closed-loop data-driven growing system that minimizes water, electricity and light usage, employs custom chips to maximize light wavelengths and monitors temperature, humidity and pH levels via sensors.

Vigeo Gardens produces about 200,000 lbs. of produce a year over about 18,000 square feet of growing space, which equates to about 550 lbs. of produce every day.

Products available at Heinen’s Ohio and Illinois locations.

Buckeye Fresh Greenhouse

Buckeye Fresh

With backgrounds in manufacturing and virtually no agricultural experience, Buckeye Fresh owners Tim Remington, Kim Hookway and Corey Remington had a wild idea to start a vertical hydroponic farm. It seems their passion for greenhouse growing was all they needed to produce some of our region’s best lettuces, which is why they’ve been a partner of ours for more than 10 years.

Based in Medina, Ohio, they operate 40 vertical planting systems at their facility and sell a variety of packaged lettuce blends and basil. Most hydroponic greenhouses arrange their crops in what appears as a sea of green lettuce, but the Buckeye Fresh team does things differently. They grow their produce using vertical racks and a sophisticated LED lighting system. With advanced monitoring systems that manage nutrient levels, they’re able to ensure that every plant grows in exactly the right conditions. With their state-of-the-art growing operation, plants typically have a growing cycle of about 17-21 days and, when stored properly, stay fresher for far longer than traditional farmed lettuce.

Products available at Heinen’s Ohio and Illinois locations.

Gotham Greens

Gotham Greens launched their very first greenhouse in Brooklyn, NY in 2009, and have since expanded to cities across the country. Their greenhouses are located near urban areas and operate around the vision of bringing farms closer to people. They have built some of the largest urban greenhouses in the country, including the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world in Chicago; not too far from our Illinois Heinen’s locations.

Gotham Greens has a full line of products that includes a wide variety of packaged lettuces, lettuce mixes, basil, salad dressings, sauces and dips. Quality and freshness are of the utmost importance to their operation, as well as sustainability. In fact, their greenhouses are powered by solar and wind technology. Gotham Greens is also a certified B-Corp and prioritizes partnering with the communities they operate in through environmental and educational initiatives.

Products only available at Heinen’s Illinois locations.

NatureFresh Farms Greenhouse

Nature Fresh Farms

Lettuces and herbs aren’t the only produce that grow in greenhouses; just ask the team at Nature Fresh Farms who have been growing vine-ripened tomatoes in Delta, OH since 2015!

With expertise in building greenhouses, Nature Fresh Farms founder, Peter Quiring’s career trajectory took an interesting turn in 1999 when a greenhouse he built in Leamington, Ontario simply wouldn’t sell. So, instead of selling it, he tried growing in it.

Keeping that greenhouse was certainly the right decision because today, Nature Fresh Farms has expanded in company size and product assortment, with hundreds of acres of greenhouse between Canada and Ohio. Their impressive resume of products boasts a vast array of specially developed, greenhouse grown tomatoes, cucumbers and even strawberries, all of which are provided hands-on care from the Nature Fresh team during their growing cycle.

Nature Fresh is an expert at creating an ideal growing environment inside of their greenhouses, but they’re equally passionate about keeping the outside environment just as healthy through practicing sustainability during the growing, harvesting, packaging and purchasing process. It all starts with using a natural medium for growing and recycling excess water with a closed loop irrigation system, among other sustainable growing efforts. Additionally, their ongoing use of environmentally friendly packaging ensures that Nature Fresh Farms is fair to the environment from start-to-finish.

Products available at Heinen’s Ohio and Illinois locations.

Heinen's Grocery Store

By Heinen's Grocery Store

In 1929, Joe Heinen opened the doors of a small butcher shop on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, aiming to establish himself as the city’s purveyor of quality meats. As customers came into Heinen’s new shop for their meat purchases, they began asking him to carry groceries as well. Joe added homemade peanut butter, pickles and donuts and by 1933, business had grown enough to include a line of produce and canned goods. Heinen’s Grocery Store was born.

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