R.E.A.CH. International Greenhouse Competition Presents Annual Awards
- by Jordan Okumura
LEAMINGTON, ONTARIO, CANADA - Around this time each year, the team at AndNowUKnow checks our calendars and waits in joyful anticipation for the results of the annual Leamington Fair R.E.A.CH. International Greenhouse Competitions. Now in its 12th year, this series of competitions hosts categories including “The Hottest Tomato”, “The Perfect Pepper”, “The Coolest Cucumber,” and the “Sweetest Strawberry.”
Not only does this event recognize the best of the best, but the proceeds raised provide funds to sponsor over 50 children in Uganda, Africa, annually. The sponsorships give the children food, school supplies, medicine, and everything else they need to get an education and break the cycle of poverty.
So, we thought, what better way to kick off the week than with some of those pioneering companies who rose the award ranks at the Leamington event.
“This competition is focused on flavor, which is the driving force behind everything we do,” Paul Mastronardi, President and CEO, and the fourth-generation family member to lead Mastronardi Produce, said. “We’re proud to support and be recognized by our local community.”
SUNSET® took the competitions by storm, earning top honors in nine categories. In addition to receiving Best Overall Strawberry for the perfectly sweet dreamberry™, part of the new WOW™ berry line, and the SUNSET® new two-bite cucumber, Qukes™, was named Best Cocktail Cucumber with Cloud Cukes taking the awards for People’s and Kid’s Choice Cucumber. The ALOHA™ pepper won Kids’ Choice Pepper and Best Specialty Bell Pepper; SUNSET® orange bell pepper also received first place in its category. On top of those accolades, Campari® won Best Cocktail Tomato and red Sweet Twister™ won Best Specialty Long Pepper, according to a press release.
Fiona McLean, Marketing Manager for DelFrescoPure also shared her excitement on the recent event, including the award for the company’s YES!Berries Your Everyday Snack® strawberries.
"We are thrilled to win the People’s Choice Strawberry award for our YES!Berries. This competition brings together some of the greatest, leading-edge companies in greenhouse innovation and we are honored to be a part of this year's honored recipients," Fiona shared with me.
The company also won an accolade in the Perfect Pepper Competition with the DelFrescoPure’s Yellow Bell Pepper.
Mucci Farms, once again, did what the team does best and brought crowd pleasers across the board. The company was awarded Best Bite-Size Tomato with its ChertoTM Gourmet Cherry Tomato variety and tied for first place for the Best Specialty Mini Pepper with Sweet to the PointTM. The company also tied for Overall Best Pepper for its Sweet to the PointTM and won the Kid's Choice Strawberry Award for its SmucciesTM Sweet Strawberries.
“We’re very grateful to be recognized, once again, at the Leamington Fair for multiple items," Director of Marketing Emily Murracas shares. "As big supporters of our local community, we’re particularly thankful to receive the Kid’s Choice Award that went to our Smuccies Sweet Strawberries! This competition is a testament to the impact our region has on the greenhouse category in North America and beyond."
Pure Flavor also took to the award rankings, as Chris Veillon, Chief Marketing Officer of the company shares.
“At this years event, Pure Flavor took home awards for Best Red Bell Pepper with our Pure Flavor® Sweet Red Bell Pepper and Best Roma Tomato our Pure Flavor® Roma Tomatoes. Congratulations to all the growers who submitted a record number of entries this year,” Chris tells me. “We are happy to support R.E.A.CH. International each year during Leamington’s Greenhouse Vegetable Competition. The funds raised from the entries go to a very worthwhile cause. With literally hundreds of varieties being tasted during the competition, we take great pride in our family of growers commitment to producing the most flavorful vegetables each season, regardless of growing region.”
NatureFresh™ Farms came ready to impress as well and was recognized with honors including Best Overall Tomato, Cucumber, and tied for the Overall Best Pepper.
NatureFresh™ Farms took home top awards in the following categories: Best English Cucumber, tied for Best Speciality Mini Pepper, Best Beefsteak Tomato, Best Cluster Tomato, Best Speciality Tomato for its TOMZ Orange Cherry Tomato, People’s Choice Tomato for its TOMZ Tomberry® Tomato, Kid’s Choice Tomato for the TOMZ Tomberry® Tomato, Overall Best Cucumber for the Long English Cucumber, Overall Best Tomato for the TOMZ Orange Cherry Tomato, and Overall Best Pepper for the team’s Red Mini Pepper, according to a press release.
“We have an amazing team who works very hard to ensure our produce has top-notch flavor paired with consistency,” Executive Retail Sales Account Manager Matt Quiring, who accepted the awards on behalf of NatureFresh™ Farms. “Winning the highest overall honors across the board is a great testament to what our team can accomplish; it is more than just about showcasing the best that we grow, it is about our commitment to continuing to push our categories in the right direction.”
The annual R.E.A.CH. International Greenhouse Competitions are presented in part by NatureFresh™ Farms, Red Sun Farms, QU Truck Bodies, and UCB Canada. The events happen in two stages. First, on Friday evening, expert judges from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), grocery store produce managers, Culinary Guild of Windsor Chefs, and many others, judge entries with a specialized list of criteria. Second, the organizers poled the public for their favourite Tomato, Pepper, Cucumber, and Strawberry for the “People’s Choice” awards throughout Friday and Saturday.
The competitions culminated on Saturday evening with an awards ceremony, which awarded coveted crystal trophies to some of the best producers in North America.
Congrats to all the award winners on your greenhouse innovations!