Curious about how a large-scale hydroponic greenhouse works? Then stop by SunTech Greenhouses near Manotick, where you can tour a 2.5 acre greenhouse that produces tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables. If you’re in a group, you need to reserve in advance, but otherwise, just stop in and they should be able to show you around (it’s best to come earlier in the day though).
The tour begins with walk through a disinfection solution for your shoes, and then it’s off to the main greenhouse. This is where you will learn about the hydroponic growing method, which uses fertilizers dissolved in water to feed the plants. There is no soil involved in this process. The greenhouse is very clean and quiet – just lots of green plants, ripening tomatoes, and bumblebees. The bumblebees pollinate the fruit, and are apparently better workers than honeybees, mostly because due to the fact that they’re not busy producing honey!
The next stop on the tour is a visit to a smaller greenhouse where they grow cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and beans. After this, the tour wraps up with a short visit to the packing area, where tomatoes are graded for size (the only process done with a machine), and then hand-packed for shipment.
SunTech is a family-owned business, and currently employs about 20 people. They sell to over 80 stores in Eastern Ontario, as well as many local restaurants. Business is good, and with more growing space required, they are now building a large new greenhouse attached to the main greenhouse.
You can buy SunTech tomatoes from Mid-March through December, either at your local grocery store or directly from the SunTech store. The on-site store also has gourmet specialty items, such as jams, jellies, and mustards. They also sell salsa and marinara sauce made from their own tomatoes.
SunTech Greenhouses are open daily until 5PM. Check their website for exact hours.