Commercial North Okanagan lettuce grower looking to hire lots of locals starting in New Year - InfoNews

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Commercial North Okanagan lettuce grower looking to hire lots of locals starting in New Year

Lettuces are packed into clamshells at Vegpro's Sherrington, Quebec location.
Image Credit: Vegpro International
December 11, 2017 - 6:30 PM

COLDSTREAM - Most of the lettuce you see for sale at chain supermarkets comes from the U.S., but a new product out of Coldstream means you can buy a lot closer to home.

You might even be able to pack it yourself.

Vegpro International recently unveiled plans for a commercial lettuce farm and 70,000 square foot packaging facility.

Vegpro spokesperson Jonathan Blais says they anticipate the creation of roughly 150 new jobs.

“There will be a range of different jobs from a lower skill level to engineers (and) agrologists,” Blais says.

The lettuce will be grown outside, not in greenhouses, so the fieldwork will be seasonal (March to October). The company recently bought 700 acres of land from the Coldstream Ranch.

Conceptual drawing of Vegpro's 70,000 square foot packaging facility in Coldstream.
Conceptual drawing of Vegpro's 70,000 square foot packaging facility in Coldstream.
Image Credit: Vegpro International

“We’ll do our best to hire local but seasonal work is challenging,” he says.

If they can’t fill the field jobs with locals, he says they will turn to migrant workers.

The rest of the jobs will be year-round inside the packaging facility.

The company expects to break ground on the construction of the new facility in January and have it operational by June or July. Jobs will start being posted in the New Year, and Blais suggests anyone interested should check regularly for positions.

The product will be baby salad greens and ready-to-eat salads. It will be sold in major chains like Costco, Loblaws and Safeway under the “FRESH Attitude” brand.

Blais says it’s fairly unique to have a product like this grown in B.C.

Baby arugula being harvested at the Sherrington, Quebec location.
Baby arugula being harvested at the Sherrington, Quebec location.
Image Credit: Vegpro International

“The whole intent of it is to be able to provide local food in Canada, grown by local farmers,” he says.

The company has farms in Quebec and Florida, but has been looking for property in B.C. for a few years.

“(The Coldstream property) ended up being perfect. It has a dry climate and flat land,” Blais says.

He says drier is better so you can better control how much water the plants get. The company is also a leading producer of onions and carrots in Quebec, and says if land can be procured in the Okanagan, they will look at branching out operations.

According to Blais, lettuce farming of this scale is a first in B.C.


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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