Village Farms is honored to have an excellent growing team with numerous years of
experience in hydroponic greenhouse production. No wonder our tomatoes, peppers,
and cucumbers are always so fresh and taste so delicious! Below is some information
on a few of our top growers.
Vice President & Regional Facility Manager
Jan is Regional Facility Manager for Village Farms in West Texas. Born in the infamous
"Glass City" Westland region of Holland known for its 80,000 acres of greenhouses,
growing came naturally to Jan. From a young age he helped his grandfather and uncles
in the greenhouse business, picking tomatoes in the early mornings before school,
sometimes as early as 5am. After graduating Jan worked 7 years for a tomato labor
contractor in his home region doing the crop work. Due to his love of travel Jan
took a job with an international firm building greenhouses overseas. Finding himself
in the USA for this project, upon completion he stayed on for 6 years to train workers
in the greenhouse in the crop work and maintenance of the facility. In 1993 this
same greenhouse, (owned by a major competitor), was purchased by Village Farms.
It was at this time Jan began his career with Village Farms as a grower, and soon
after moved to Texas where he has worked for the past 10 years. He says Village
Farms is a great company to work for due to its co-founders Mike DeGiglio and Albert
VanZeyst foresight as true innovators in a technology driven industry. Jan says
he enjoys the many challenges his job provides. So maybe that’s why even though
he has his complete attention on growing top quality produce for Village Farms 24
hours a day, with little time for much else, liking this so much he would not have
it any other way.
Facility Manager, Fort Davis
Jose Cruz is facilities Manager for Village Farms in Fort Davis, Texas. Born in
Chihuahua Mexico into a family of farmers, Jose was always good with plants and
realized from a young age he had an affinity for growing. Because of this he chose
to pursue a degree in agriculture in school. Jose has been growing tomatoes in greenhouses
for 21 years, starting out as a laborer doing the pruning and clipping, working
his way up to supervisor, then on to assistant grower, and finally to his current
position now as grower. Jose has been with Village Farms for 10 years, starting
out in the position of grower and in 2007 promoted to the position of Facility Manager.
Jose says the best part of his job is literally being with the plants, and he finds
this very meditative. The plants are like his babies he says, and he loves helping
them grow to reach maturity. Jose sees Village Farms' as a company with opportunities
for solving complex food security issues in the future. He says opportunities in
the innovative technology of the future will depend on creating resource efficiencies
like the type hydroponic greenhouse production provides.
John Van Etten
Facility Manager, Presidio
John Van Etten is Facility Manager at our Presidio greenhouse in Texas. Born in
Holland, John started helping out in his family’s greenhouse when he was just 8
years old, and by the age of 16 was helping to actually grow the tomatoes. After
graduating from Horticultural College, John pursued a higher agricultural degree
in Marketing & Horticulture Science. After his studies John worked in the family
greenhouse business until an opportunity aboard brought him to Colorado where he
worked in a greenhouse for 3 years. After this time Village Farms found John and
he joined the company. He has been with the company for the past 10 years starting
as assistant grower and working up to his current position as Facilities Manager.
John is optimistic that trends in greenhouse technology will continue to develop
further. He says he appreciates Village Farms' GATES technology being like no other;
it is truly far ahead of its time. However, John is quick to point out, it is grower
expertise and experience which ultimately drives the ability to integrate the technology
and make it work to produce our great tasting tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.
Dirk de Jong
Vice President & Regional Facility Manager
Dirk de Jong is Regional Manager for Village Farms in British Columbia, Canada.
For Mr. de Jong greenhouse growing is in his blood. Born into a family of hothouse
growers in the Netherlands, Mr. de Jong’s father and uncles grew tomatoes and peppers
under glass. From a young age Mr. de Jong spent holidays and summers learning every
aspect of greenhouse production nurtured through a long line of family tradition.
Educated at horticultural school in Holland, upon graduation de Jong was officially
initiated into his family’s greenhouse tomato business where he stayed for 10 years.
Village Farms was pleased to find Dirk and persuade him to join up with us in the
USA where he spent a year as Grower in the Fort Davis, Texas facility. For the past
10 years, Mr. de Jong has been part of the Village Farms’ family in British Columbia,
Canada. Here Dirk started out as Grower, then moved up to Site Manager, and currently
is Regional Manager of all of our greenhouse facilities in Delta. Mr. de Jong says,
"I am very pleased Village Farms has given me this opportunity and with it the responsibility
of overseeing an extremely efficient operation whose technological innovation exemplifies
environmental stewardship values."
Site Manager/Grower, British Columbia
Laura Bryce is Site Manager/Grower for Village Farms in British Columbia, Canada
at our Delta II facility. Ms. Bryce has been with Village Farms for 9 years where
she began her career and worked her way up to her current position as Site Manager.
Ms. Bryce is a graduate of the renowned Horticultural program offered through Kwantlen
Polytechnic University in Langley, B.C. Born and raised in Price George in northern
central British Columbia, Laura was attracted to greenhouse vegetable production
as a career from a young age. "To work with plants is ideal and working in an environmentally
friendly indoor garden helping plants to reach their optimal potential is better
than any desk job", she says. Ms. Bryce appreciates the strong team effort put forth
at Village Farms and realizes this is integral to the success of the company. Laura
draws inspiration from a long line of family farmers on her mother’s side, particularly
her great grandmother, a grain farmer in Alberta, who was self sufficient, living
without electricity or running water, and lived healthy until the age of 101.
Site Manager/Grower, British Columbia
Rob Baldwin is Site Manager/Grower for Village Farms in British Columbia, Canada
at our Delta III facility. Mr. Baldwin has been with Village Farms for three years,
starting as Grower and moving up to Site Manager. Prior to this Mr. Baldwin was
with BC Vegetable Greenhouse as Grower for 3 years, and before this Windset Farms
for 3 years as Assistant Grower. Mr. Baldwin is a 2000 graduate from the esteemed
Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, B.C., with a degree in Greenhouse Vegetable
Production. Mr. Baldwin has lived in British Columbia is whole life, spending most
of it on the lower mainland. Growing up in White Rock, as a teenager Rob spent his
summers as a picker and laborer for a family friend’s greenhouse business. Rob appreciates
the diversity of his work in greenhouse production because it merges the knowledge
of science with the fine art of growing, "Village Farms is a good fit for me. The
organization and management is top notch".
Grower, British Columbia
Mitch Fortier is a Grower for Village Farms in British Columbia, Canada at our Delta
I facility. Upon graduating in 2004 from the esteemed Kwantlen Polytechnic University
in Surrey, B.C. with a degree in Greenhouse Vegetable Production, Mr. Fortier embarked
on a career with Village Farms. He has been with the company for 4.5 years. Mitch
says he is honored to have the opportunity to work with world class growers at Village
farms and appreciates their influence in helping to grow his own knowledge of hothouse
production technology. As a native Canadian Mr. Fortier was raised in the far reaches
of Northern Manitoba but currently enjoys residing in the lower mainland of British
To learn more about Village Farms and the hydroponics industry, take a virtual tour
or read our press releases