Skip to main content
Home » Technology & Innovation » Agricultural Innovation » Greenhouse-Grown Vegetables Good for Economy, Consumers, and Planet
Agricultural Innovation

Greenhouse-Grown Vegetables Good for Economy, Consumers, and Planet

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Richard Lee

Executive Director, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers 

Ontario’s greenhouse sector is a major powerhouse for the Canadian agriculture industry. It’s also a big advantage to consumers. 

Canada’s agricultural industry has a long history of success in the global marketplace. It’s especially renowned for producing greenhouse vegetables and exporting a significant portion of produce to the U.S., which receives about 99 per cent of all Canadian vegetable exports.


Canada’s reputation for producing high-quality, safe, and sustainable greenhouse products is due largely to investments in research and development, the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and practices, and the use of efficient and environmentally friendly production methods.

Ontario is a powerhouse in greenhouse agriculture

Ontario is one part of the country where these investments are showing substantial payoff, particularly the southwest region, which has become a major production hub. “Windsor-Essex is known as the heart of Ontario’s agriculture and agri-tech sector,” says Richard Lee, Executive Director of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), a not-for-profit representing about 170 growers of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers across 3,800 acres in Ontario. “The region is one of the largest greenhouse clusters globally, employing over 32,000 people and producing more than 503M kilograms of fresh, nutritious, healthy greenhouse products each year.” 

The recent Innovative Growth and Prosperity Study by OGVG and AIRM Consulting Limited reports that Ontario’s overall farm gate value (market value after selling costs) for greenhouse tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers is $1.4 billion and that Ontario’s greenhouse sector contributes $2.3 billion to the provincial GDP. The study additionally reports that Ontario contributes to 81.6 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse vegetable exports. 

Standing by a commitment to the environment

“These findings underscore the significance of greenhouse agriculture and our contributions from Ontario as well as Canada-wide to feed North America,” says Lee. With a projected industry growth rate of five per cent annually for the next decade, the greenhouse vegetable sector is poised for further job creation and economic contribution.  

One hallmark of Ontario’s greenhouse vegetable industry is its commitment to reducing its environmental impact by promoting sustainable agriculture, thereby contributing to the overall health and well-being of the region. “Technologies and practices like high-tech greenhouses, precision irrigation, and integrated pest management allow growers to increase efficiencies, conserve resources, and grow more food per acre of land,” says Lee. The proximity of farmers to markets is a bonus as it means shorter driving distances and fewer greenhouse emissions. “Most OGVG farms are less than a one-day drive from the markets they serve,” says Lee.  

What “greenhouse-grown” means for consumers

Greenhouse vegetables are sold at major retailers across the country and are instantly recognizable by their “greenhouse-grown” produce certification label. “We’ve learned that a lot of consumers don’t really understand how to identify Ontario grown greenhouse produce, so we’ve been working to educate Ontario residents and the general public on the association between greenhouse-grown, the health benefits and environmental attributes of greenhouse vegetables through our Greenhouse Goodness campaign,” says Lee.

One benefit the Greenhouse Goodness campaign speaks to is freshness. “These vegetables are grown 365 days a year, ripened to perfection and picked at their peak, and then packed and shipped to consumers within 24 hours to ensure they’re at their most flavourful and nutritious,” says Lee. Another benefit is consistency of quality thanks to the controlled environment in which the vegetables are grown. That means they’re always delicious. This closed and controlled environment also allows for the early detection of pests and diseases, so consumers get minimal exposure to pesticides. At the same time, being grown in a controlled environment doesn’t mean that the vegetables are propagated artificially. Greenhouse-grown produce takes advantage of natural pollination from nature’s best pollinators — bumblebees — which are housed in hives strategically placed throughout the greenhouse. “We also utilize other beneficial insects like ladybugs, which protect our crops from plant feeding pests with an end result of a consistently high-quality product with minimal chemical intervention,” says Lee.

In addition to educating about the benefits of greenhouse-grown produce, the Greenhouse Goodness campaign shares tasty recipes using greenhouse vegetables and invites consumers to submit recipes of their own. 

Greenhouse Goodness takes off

If you happen to be traversing through Windsor Airport anytime soon, expect to see OGVG’s Greenhouse Goodness campaign up close and interactive. As of this past September, the airport’s baggage claim area has been turned into a model of a greenhouse farm and is expected to stay that way for the next two years. 

“The Windsor Airport takeover is designed to showcase the high concentration of greenhouses, achievements, and sector innovation in southwestern Ontario to people entering the region,” says Lee. As passengers step off the plane and proceed to claim their baggage, they’ll be met with educational messaging that promotes the health attributes of greenhouse vegetables and sustainable growing practices that our farmers adopt. “The area abounds with easy-to-read infographics, colourful displays, and life-sized images of crops to draw the visitor into the experience,” says Lee. 

Learn more about the innovative practices of Ontario produce growers at

Next article