This non-profit organization’s aim is to fight against poverty and exclusion. It provides emergency aid to those who are homeless, including food and clothing, housing and referral to additional support. Vermilion has supported the Parentis location by helping to finance a shower facility for the homeless and storage facilities for donated clothing that the agency sells to help raise funds.
Tomatoes on the Vine
Aerial View of Parentis Battery with Greenhouse
Exchanging Energy to Protect Our Environment
An international energy producer and a tomato growing company may not seem natural partners at first glance – but the use of innovative technology and a shared focus on environmental responsibility has earned the partnership between Vermilion and the Tom d’Aqui company in Parentis-en-Born (France Aquitaine Basin) a national ecology award from the French government.
On December 3, 2013 in Paris, the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy presented Vermilion and Tom d’Aqui with its 2013 Circular Economy Award for Industrial and Regional Ecology. This award recognizes economically successful enterprises that operate within a “circular economy,” in which businesses and processes conserve, reuse and recycle resources to better protect our environment.
The partnership began in the mid-2000s, as Vermilion sought to support the local community while adding environmental value. At the same time, four local agricultural engineers wanted to create an economically and environmentally viable “eco-greenhouse” operation in which to grow tomatoes. After considerable research, and support from the local authorities, a rezoning of the land next to Vermilion’s Parentis operation was realized, allowing Vermilion and the growers to sign a 25-year partnership agreement in 2008.
Today, Tom d’Aqui’s 10 hectares of greenhouse use the heat from Vermilion’s produced water source to create an eco-friendly environment in which to grow some 3,000 tonnes of tomatoes on the vine annually, supporting 150 local jobs and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 10,000 tonnes per year.
Here’s how it works:
This “geothermal” heating system allows the greenhouse to be heated without carbon emissions, a key element in their certification as “eco-greenhouse.” Tom d’Aqui also incorporates a 1,300-square metre array of solar panels to further reduce energy use, fully recycles all of the water used in the grow operation, and uses integrated biological protection (insect against insect) to avoid pesticide use. The tomatoes are raised on organic substrates made from coconut shells, which are completely recycled at the end of the crop cycle.
This project reduces the cost of traditional tomato growing operations in the region, allowing the producers to compete with warmer climate producers. As a member of the Rougeline tomato distribution group, Tom d’Aqui is delivering on Rougeline’s consumer guarantee of healthy, high quality food, at a fair price and with respect for the environment.
The success of this project, which takes advantage of a previously unused resource within Vermilion’s production process, is leading to 5 hectares of greenhouse expansion in Parentis in 2016 and creating an additional 50 jobs.
Similar value-added projects elsewhere are under evaluation to benefit both local communities and our global environment.
By the Numbers