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The newly formed North American Greenhouse/Hothouse Vegetable Growers (NAGHVG) has developed its own certification standards and criteria for greenhouses and greenhouse-grown produce.
The new Bellingham, Wash.-based group, formed after three years of research and review to protect and support superior standards of excellence in food safety and quality, has developed its own certification standards and is comprised of five leading North American greenhouse growers: Windset Farms, Gipaanda Greenhouses and Houweling's Hot House, all in Delta, British Columbia; Village Farms LP, Eatontown, N.J.; and Eurofresh Farms, Willcox, Ariz.
Products produced by association members will have individual company logos as well as a "Certified Greenhouse" logo that informs consumers and retailers that what they are buying has been produced using the safest possible growing technique -- certified greenhouse grown.
The NAGHVG certification also aims to respond to concerns that some vegetables labeled hothouse or greenhouse aren't grown hydroponically in clean, food safe environments.
However, in light of recent food safety issues such as the most recent tomato salmonella outbreak, the NAGHVG wants customers to know that "Certified Greenhouse" vegetables, such as tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers, are grown indoors according to standards that include food safe, controlled hydroponic production and sustainable indoor growing practices.
Research undertaken over the past three years by NAGHVG member companies indicates noteworthy food safety and supply benefits to growing vegetables indoors in "Certified Greenhouse" conditions, including carefully monitored and controlled growing processes, from irrigation to climate control and growing medium; vegetables protected from pollution, wildlife and other potential contaminants; eco-friendly integrated pest management (IPM) and; reliable year-round supplies.
The "Certified Greenhouse" program will be backed by ongoing audits to ensure that certified producers continue to meet the rigorous standards set by the association. Moreover, certification will be granted exclusively to greenhouse operations that comply with strict NAGHVG greenhouse definitions.