'Field vegetables' vs 'Greenhouse' vegetables

Slimy_Okra(2b)May 31, 2012

In your experience, which do customers prefer (let's say for tomatoes, but really any vegetable) and *why*?

I have a few small low tunnels and a high tunnel, all of which are unheated. Do I market my produce as field or greenhouse? So far I have been labelling it as 'field produce' to convey the idea that it is natural and relatively eco-friendly, but I want to make sure I'm not stretching the definition.

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myfamilysfarm

My customers preferred 'field' grown. I have sold both, and the covered produce would sell like crazy BEFORE field produce came in, and then the sales would fall off just as fast. Hopefully your area will be more considerate.

Your produce is not field grown, per definition that my customers would have used. It would not be classified as natural, since you're not having to 'deal with' all that Nature gives.

Be sure to state that you're only using the plastic to help production and and NO HEAT, besides the sun was used. You will have a hard time until you get customers used to what your produce taste like.

I'm sorry to report that in my markets, high tunnels, low tunnels, ANY covered vegetable are looked down on and are harder to sell.

Personally, I believe that the customers believe that there is a different taste. This is coming from the grocery stores selling greenhouse tomatoes, out of season, that have NO taste (unless you count cardboard as a taste).

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 5:00PM
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magz88(5a - Central Ontario)

I don't know about customers in general, but personally I would always pick field grown over greenhouse.

That being said, my definition of field grown allows for unheated season extenders.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:30PM
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2ajsmama

Do you have to say one or the other? Here, "field tomatoes" are inferior to named varieties, no one seems to ask if they were grown under cover (though if a farmer has tomatoes in June, you can bet they were grown in a greenhouse or at least a high tunnel.

While "field tomatoes" seems to be a generic term and is seen as an inferior product to say an heirloom (though heirlooms may be grown in the field), no one wants "greenhouse tomatoes" either unless it's all they can get early or late in the season.

Maybe it takes a little education - talk about Eliot Coleman and extending the season...

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 10:05PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

This subject is a touch one for me. I get it all the time. "Are these Hot House Tomatoes?" I have to stop what I am doing and explain our growing systems and why we do what we do. I had to do this for several years, now my customers do it for me. If someone says something like that and other happy customers are around, they set the record straight.

Jay

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:19PM
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myfamilysfarm

Hot house is grown WITH supplemental heat (besides the sun), so, Jay yours are NOT.

Field tomatoes are grown outside without any supplemental heat (including plastic coverings), is the way that my customers think. I've asked them their definition.

Usually after they've tasted the ones that I've had, they don't mind, since the tomatoes are the first ones of season. But IF I had a box labeled field grown and one labeled tunnel grown, the field grown would sell out 4x faster. Of course, this is obviously exactly the same quantity and quality.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 4:15PM
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Slimy_Okra(2b)

Thanks for the answers. It looks like my operation could be described as either one, depending on how one looks at it. Interestingly, chefs and other large customers seem to prefer greenhouse produce here - I suppose that is because of the assurance of reliability. Most non-greenhouse vendors (I mean heated greenhouse) are unable to compete in that respect here.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 10:22PM
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myfamilysfarm

High tunnels have changed the definitions, since they don't use supplemental. Lots of customers think that ALL greenhouse plants are hydroponic, instead of being grown in actual dirt. So many options that most people (outside of the business) don't know about.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:52AM
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2ajsmama

Guy next to me was selling greenhouse tomatoes - "Trust" variety. I didn't think much of them (bought 1 for dinner since I skipped lunch today). He said he got seeds from hydro place, but I didn't ask if he grew them hydroponically. He sold me a couple small lumpy ones (looked like the Ugli type) for $1, most of them I'd say were about 1 lb and pretty uniform (not ribbed like the ones I bought). Just don't taste like my heirlooms - though better than my Glaciers were last year (of course there was so much rain last year I think the tomatoes were pretty tasteless, I'm hoping they are better this year since I'm "dry farming").

But he did a steady business, I think just b/c he was the only one with ripe tomatoes. Market master has a greenhouse (or maybe a tunnel - I'm not sure if it's heated), uses grow bags, I don't know if she had any yet, her stall is across the field from mine.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 9:36PM
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