What’s the secret to a grocery store having the freshest vegetables possible?

Trucking them in from a nearby farm?

How about growing them right on the truck in the grocery store parking lot?

At the Barrhaven Loblaws in south Ottawa they were doing one to promote the other.

Leamington, Ontario-based NatureFresh Farms parked a fully-functioning mobile greenhouse right outside the doors. The display is designed to show passersby how greenhouse-grown produce can be fresher, tastier, and more environmentally-friendly, particularly in Canada’s short growing season. “Consumers want to know where their product is coming from,” says Ray Wowryk, Director of Business Development with NatureFresh.

But it wasn’t just conscientious consumers checking out the display. Many, including small children, simply wanted to know how large peppers, English cucumbers and cherry tomatoes could possibly be grown out of the back of a truck – especially one that logs hundreds of kilometres each week. “I’d sure like to steal this for my garden,” jokes passerby Mary Lou McCarvill.

The specially-designed truck has all the high-tech trappings of a regular greenhouse. The large plants are actually grown in tiny troughs filled with shredded coconut husks - a spongy medium to hold water and nutrients. Each trough sits on a special air-ride system to absorb the rigours of the road. “We drove up from Leamington, Ontario all the way up to here in Ottawa and we lost one tomato,” says NatureFresh Farm’s Matthew Quiring.

There’s even a built-in bee colony. The bees are used to pollinate greenhouse plants. “We like to call the bees our hardest workers in the greenhouse,” says Quiring.

"They're getting a lot of produce from a very small area, which is amazing," said McCarvill.

You still have time to check out the NatureFresh  mobile greenhouse. Its tour of Ottawa continues this weekend. On Saturday, Sept. 5th it will be at the Real Canadian Superstore at 190 Richmond Road. On Sunday, Sept. 6th it will be at the Loblaws at 64 Isabella Street. It will be set up from noon to 5pm daily.