Greenhouse food production in Canada is a billion-dollar industry that continues to grow over time. With an increasing demand for locally sourced produce, greenhouse-grown fruit presents a unique opportunity to fill the gap year-round. With a 5% national increase in greenhouse fruit and vegetable sales from 2018 to 2019, the momentum of the protected production sector is growing. This increase was also noted in Nova Scotia, marking a 7% increase in sales in 2019.
Nova Scotia is home to a handful of protected berry producers. This is primarily seen with commercial strawberries but is becoming popular with raspberry and blackberry producers as well. Protected crop production presents many opportunities for growers. First and foremost, growing berries under cover provides protection from the elements. Rainfall can be difficult to navigate on newly-ripened fruit, as it has an extremely small window for harvest and is at risk of becoming unmarketable. By growing in a tunnel or greenhouse, you are able to eliminate this issue completely. Not only is there a lower incidence of disease on the berries, but on the foliage as well, allowing for more productive plants overall. While field crops are entirely dependent on the outside temperature, covered spaces can retain heat. This allows for earlier planting, harvesting, and selling compared to an outdoor setup, and protects against unseasonable frosts in late spring and early fall. These benefits can be seen in the most basic of structures, and amplified with increasing complexity in the growing structure.