If you are over 50 you probably remember Green Acres, a sitcom starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as a couple who move from New York City to a rural country farm. They are plagued with situations common to farming and the comedy comes in with their response to them.
I read that a new greenhouse farming operation is being planned for the Toledo, Ohio area. The size is an astounding 175 acres and the price tag of $200 million is equally astonishing. That investment comes in at over $1 million per acre. It is a mere 2 hours away from Leamington, Ontario, Canada where there are over 2000 acres of greenhouse vegetable production. Most of those growers complain that the returns have not been there in the past few years to justify the investment.
I fully understand the ‘local’ concept that greenhouse growing brings to agriculture in climates that traditionally could not support year-round harvests. What baffles me is the economics behind these investments in protected agriculture. The labor rate that this new venture is projecting runs $17 per hour. While that is a great family-supporting wage, it adds a cost burden that is not common for agriculture. The utility bill for the heating of a structure where the average annual temperature is 54 degrees has to be incredible.
People way smarter than me have undoubtedly reviewed all of this and made an economic determination that the investment will be supported by purchasers of the harvested produce. I give them credit for having the fortitude to embark on such a project. I am old-school in enjoying the in-season produce from whatever locale it comes from; 50 miles or 500 miles or 5000 miles.