Skip navigation

Growing a greener tomorrow 

May 17, 2023 | Customers, Sustainability

“Doing things differently is what truly makes a difference.” That’s a cornerstone belief at Nature Fresh Farms, one of the largest controlled environment agriculture leaders in greenhouse grown produce in North America.  

Greenhouse farming is sustainable, reliable – and essential to feeding a growing world. It facilitates year-round growth, providing a source of fresh produce 365 days a year, and allows for higher yields in less space, enhanced food safety and traceability, and low environmental impact.

“We’re focused on Growing for a Kinder Future, and we know greenhouse grown is the best way forward to achieve this,”

– John Ketler
President, Nature Fresh Farms

A family-owned and managed company, Nature Fresh Farms was founded by Peter Quiring in 1999, with BMO as the lead banking partner. “We’ve grown with Nature Fresh since their inception,” says Brendan O’Connor, Managing Director, BMO Commercial Bank, Agriculture & Agri-Business. “They’re the future of food production.”  

Headquartered in Ontario, with greenhouses in Canada and the United States, Nature Fresh makes sustainable farming practices central to their operations. They recycle nutrient water using a closed-loop system, which allows them to use 90% less water than conventional farming; use bumblebees to pollinate their flowers, and good bugs to combat bad bugs and reduce the use of pesticides; grow plants in coconut husks; heat greenhouses with biomass boilers, which saves 15,000 tons (approximately 600 truckloads) of waste wood from landfills every season; and practice vertical growing, enabling them to grow more produce in a smaller space. 

Every line of business at BMO supports Nature Fresh, on both sides of the border. From operating as primary lender to offering treasury and interest rate management solutions, BMO takes a One Bank approach to our partnership with Nature Fresh Farms. Supporting their 1,500+ employees is also a priority.  

“It’s about supporting businesses that share our values of boldly growing the good, and working for more sustainable practices. Nature Fresh is a trailblazer. We’re proud to help with their mission of making the planet a better place.” 

– Brendan O’Connor
Managing Director, BMO Commercial Bank, Agriculture & Agri-Business

“As a financial partner, BMO has always been receptive to our ideas for growth – and worked alongside us to help make our vision a reality,” says John. Currently, that vision includes the expansion of their Delta, OH facility, which will come online in autumn 2023 and add 45 acres of organic strawberries, providing fruit from October through the end of July. “To our knowledge, this will be the only organic-focused greenhouse strawberry crop in North America,” says John. 

Nature Fresh also conducts research on plant varietals, greenhouse technology and sustainable food security at their 2.5 acre Discovery Center in Leamington, On. The centre brings together agricultural science, product trialing and consumer feedback to facilitate more efficient product research and development. “We’re always looking for greener growing processes. That means we push boundaries using science and technology to solve today’s problems – and build for tomorrow,” says John. From developing award-winning new crop varietals like Axiany and Mixiany tomatoes, to trialling LED lights in greenhouses, experimentation and innovation are part of the company’s DNA.  

Now, Nature Fresh is looking ahead to collaborating with research centres, industry leaders, governments, colleges and universities to provide opportunities for advancement in areas including engineering, automation, AI, genetics, entomology and plant physiology. “We have a big-picture perspective and long-term view,” says John. “It was never just about us or our industry. It’s about our role in feeding the world – and securing our futures.” 

Nature Fresn employee sorting cherry tomatoes
Nature Fresh employees sorting cherry tomatoes

Related Insights