Future-thinking “farmers”

Departments - Editor’s Letter


It’s an interesting time to work in horticulture, and many young people are taking notice. Fruit and vegetable production is a task that’s now being carried out in warehouses and greenhouses as well as in fields. Production technology is developing at an incredible pace, reducing labor needs, improving food safety and changing horticulture as we know it. It’s also attracting a different group of potential produce growers.

According to a 2017 National Young Farmers Coalition survey of “3,517 past, current and aspiring farmers under 40 years across the U.S.,” 75 percent of respondents said that they did not grow up on a farm — wow! When you look at the controlled environment agriculture industry, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of those younger folks also fall into this category and are new to growing commercially. While one group may be known more as “farmers” and the other group “growers,” there are many similarities, and they share one common goal — growing high-quality fruits and vegetables efficiently.

These new-to-the-industry folks, along with experienced growers who are following in their family’s footsteps, are evolving along with the market and creating a more forward-thinking, innovative produce industry. In this month’s cover story, we delve into the family-focused history and future of Big Marble Farms, a year-round Canadian greenhouse cucumber operation. Although CEO Ryan Cramer says he “grew up in a cucumber crop,” he did more than step into an existing role in the family business — he, alongside his father and uncle, created a new, high-tech greenhouse operation in 2009 with the future in mind. “You’ve got to be always moving forward,” Cramer says. “That’s a common thing. You always have to be constantly innovating and adapting to the changes — constantly becoming more efficient and looking for ways to produce better.” Read more about Big Marble Farms here.

kvarga@gie.net | (216) 393-0290

Twitter: @Karen_GIE