Producer Spotlight: Intergrow Greenhouses

Tomatoes in a greenhouse

Perhaps best known for its tomatoes, the New York State Grown & Certified grower produces six different varieties that you’ve probably seen – and may have even purchased – at your local grocery store. Tomatoes on the Vine, Mixed Medley, Tots Snacking Tomatoes, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Grape Tomatoes, and Cherry Tomatoes all are grown, packaged, and shipped from Intergrow greenhouses to grocers, including Tops, Aldi, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, and Walmart across New York.

With a presence in Ontario (Wayne County), Albion (Orleans County), and Fillmore (Allegany County), Intergrow is able to stagger its planting dates, making it possible to deliver a consistent supply of high-quality, New York-grown produce all year long.  Each facility uses its distinct location to its advantage to yield the freshest produce possible. Positioned among the rolling hills of the Southern Tier, the Fillmore facility was Intergrow’s first greenhouse, originally built to be heated and powered by a neighboring coal plant. The flat, fertile grounds of Western New York made Albion an excellent choice to plant the second greenhouse. The newest location, in Ontario along the shores of the great lake that bares the same name, offers an ideal climate for growing tomatoes.

Ontario expanded its facility in 2021, introducing a new 10-acre greenhouse. Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Ball toured the Ontario facility in early 2023, getting a first-hand “taste” of all that’s involved in the process to bring tomatoes from Intergrow’s vines to consumers’ tables.

Led by James Williams, Intergrow Key Account Manager, the Commissioner’s tour observed how all of the plants are grown in Rockwool media and soak up all of their nutrients from the water. The group saw how Specialized High Pressure Sodium Lights in the greenhouse emit customizable light wavelengths, enabling the plants to produce during even the coldest, darkest times of the year.

While walking through the greenhouses, Commissioner Ball watched as employees pruned the tomatoes, and removed the offshoots, repositioning the plants growing on the heated rails to reach optimal growth. As Williams explained, each employee has their own section that they’re responsible for – and they take pride in putting flavor first.

In a video featured on Intergrow’s website, Intergrow President and co-founder Dirk Biemans also had high praise for the tomato caretakers.  “They really feel that those are their plants,” Biemans said. “You know how a farmer names their cows? Our employees name their tomato plants.”

Not only are the products handled with food safety top of mind, being New York State Grown & Certified also means that Intergrow Greenhouses is environmentally responsible. Pitched greenhouse roofs collect more than 90% of the water needed for irrigation, and inside, the hanging gutter system allows for all unused water and fertilizer to be recycled and reused. Meanwhile, a combined heating and power system at its Albion site heats and powers the greenhouses at the same time while CO2 exhausted through heating activities is used to increase photosynthesis to prevent harmful gases from entering the Intergrow atmosphere. The natural gas boilers burn cleanly, and emit CO2 that is good for the plants, not harmful to humans. Biomass waste offers additional heat in the cold winter months and diffused glass distributes sunlight more evenly throughout. Bees and other insects are used to replicate pollination and ward off the white fly population. Additional examples of environmental practices that Intergrow follows are outlined on the “Farm” section of the Intergrow website.

While touring the Ontario facility, Commissioner Ball took note of these special touches, and praised the facility for its thoughtfulness, efficiency, and impressive growth.   We’re proud to have Intergrow be part of the New York State Grown & Certified program