Pot in Canada’s Tomato Capital

A Mexican migrant worker harvests tomatoes in Leamington, Ont. on Thursday May 30, 2002. (The Canadian Press) 

How cannabis is transforming the Tomato Capital of Canada

BNN Bloomberg, Oct. 12, 2018 • For Cole Cacciavillani, his next biggest competitor isn’t Canopy Growth Corp. or Aurora Cannabis Inc. The co-founder of Leamington, Ont.-based Aphria Inc. says it could very well be in his own backyard.

“When Netscape first came out they were the big guys. Google was nowhere to be found,” Cacciavillani said in a phone interview with BNN Bloomberg, referring to the Internet’s early days in the 1990s. “And that’s the same thing I say about the cannabis space. I don’t know if our competitors are really, really here yet.

“From a commercial growing perspective, my competition is right in my backyard, they just haven’t woken up yet. Now they’re starting to wake up. There’s lots going on in Leamington.”

Aphria may be Leamington’s current leader of cannabis production, but Cacciavillani has one eye over his shoulder for good reason. Over the last 18 months in the lead-up to the legalization of marijuana in Canada, producers have flocked to Leamington – home of the largest concentration of greenhouses in North America – seeking to convert or construct facilities to build more capacity for pot.

Indeed, the fast-moving cannabis industry is giving the former home of Heinz’s ketchup plant new life, and its moniker of “Tomato Capital of Canada” a run for its money.

Located around Canada’s southernmost point, the Leamington and Kingsville area has one of the warmest climates in Canada. The town of 30,000 people has seen 21 of its approximately 120 greenhouse growers convert entirely to cannabis production or be acquired by a larger firm, according to James Cox, Leamington’s manager of economic development. Meanwhile, an additional 35 greenhouses are planning to add capacity to existing facilities to produce marijuana alongside crops like tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

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