A cue or a cuke?

Presenting your sweetheart with a dozen cucumbers on Valentine’s Day won’t score you many points on the romance scale — unless, perhaps, the contents of that green bouquet originated at Doef’s Greenhouses.

Eric Doef holds an example of a new mini heart cucumbers in the family firm’s Doef’s Greenhouses west of Lacombe Friday.

Eric Doef holds an example of a new mini heart cucumbers in the family firm’s Doef’s Greenhouses west of Lacombe Friday.

Presenting your sweetheart with a dozen cucumbers on Valentine’s Day won’t score you many points on the romance scale — unless, perhaps, the contents of that green bouquet originated at Doef’s Greenhouses.

The Lacombe-area produce grower is marketing custom-formed cucumbers that transform into heart-shaped pieces when sliced. Sold as Mini Heart cucumbers under the Picky Gardener brand, they’ll be available at Western Canadian Safeway, Save-On-Foods and Overwaitea stores until just after Valentine’s Day.

“They’re a new product for North America,” said Eric Doef, who operates Doef’s Greenhouses with his father Joe and other family members.

The uniquely shaped cucumbers are created by placing a plastic mould on mini English cucumbers when they’re about the size of a cigar, said Doef. After about four days, the mould is removed and the cucumbers are ready to be sold and sliced.

Doef’s Greenhouses has been selling its Mini Hearts at farmers’ markets in Edmonton for the past few months, with a favourable response. Working through its distributor Sunfresh Farms, the company recently sent samples to retailers.

The positive reaction convinced it to go into mass production.

Shaped cucumbers have been grown in places like England and the Netherlands, said Doef. He’s optimistic the idea will now catch on here — perhaps even generating demand beyond the Valentine’s Day period.

“We are looking at promoting these Mini Heart cucumbers for Mother’s Day and anniversaries — even just for school lunches for kids.”

Doef’s Greenhouses is also experimenting with other shapes, such as stars and bells that could be sold around Christmas.

“We’re looking at expanding to different seasons of the year,” explained Doef.

He said that could open the door for larger-scale production, even extending beyond Doef’s Greenhouses.

“We’re looking at possibly developing relationships with other growers in the future to expand our market.”

Doef’s Greenhouse was started by Joe more than 40 years ago. It’s enjoyed tremendous growth since, today operating out of 11 acres of greenhouse space northwest of Lacombe.

“We’re always looking at new ways to promote our product, and this is definitely one of them,” said Doef.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com