President of WIndset Farms Gives Tour and Insight Into First Harvest
SANTA MARIA VALLEY - Windset Farms is based in British Columbia, Canada and chose the Santa Maria Valley to expand its unique greenhouse production because of easy access to water and workers and a friendly farming and business climate.
When you glance at Windset Farms in the Santa Maria Valley from a distance it looks like a typical greenhouse.
But as you get closer you realize it's anything but.
In fact, it's the biggest such facility ever built on valley farmland and dwarfs other large projects including the long-since closed Betteravia Sugar Beet factory.
"I think enclosed agriculture, protective agriculture isn't something that is done on this scale here", says Windset Farms President and CEO Steven Newell, "certainly it's done in other parts of the world, and tomato production is done in other parts of California but generally not in this magnitude."
Newell says his three million square foot facility on 64 acres along Black Road between Betteravia and Stowell Roads will be the most sustainable greenhouse in the world with no carbon footprint and the recycling and reuse of water.
"This greenhouse is closed so we actually let the greenhouse effect within the greenhouse create heat off of the peak that we then can harvest and pump back below the crops so we can use a lot less energy to heat the greenhouse", Newell says, "from the aspect of energy consumption both in natural gas, electricity and water use, we basically are at the height of efficiency on every respect."
Newell says he plans to mass produce top quality, hydroponically grown tomatoes, from grape, and Campari to beefsteak and Roma, without the use of most pesticides and herbicides and with the help of natural sunlight and honey bees for cross polinization.
"They tell us over and over that they are the best tasting tomato they have ever had both on the customer level and from our business partners", Newell says.
Windset farms hopes to begin harvesting its first crop of tomatoes in the coming weeks and have them on local store shelves on the Central Coast within 48 hours.
Windset Farms has hired more than 100 employees and has a permit to roughly double the size of its current greenhouse production facility.
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