A day prior to the start of the 37th edition of the Canadian Greenhouse Conference in Niagara Falls, two buses filled with interested growers, suppliers, consultants, investors and other horticulturalists already took a glance at some outstanding family businesses in Ontario's greenhouse industry during the pre-conference bus tour.
This year the bus toured the Niagara Peninsula and was kicked off with a visit to St. David's Hydroponics, the 39 hectare bell pepper grower at Niagara-on-the-Lake, where marketing manager Gord Bonisteel and head grower Mart Hendriksen gave some insight into running such a large operation with the smallest environmental footprint. The bell peppers are cultivated hydroponically and 99% of the waste water is treated and recirculated. Currently St. Davids is expanding with another 10 hectares.
Head grower Marty Hendriksen showing the group around
The next stop was Sunshine Express Garden Centre in Niagara on the Lake. The family-run business showed the visitors how they compete in a local market that is dominated by Walmart and Home Depot.
Bill Martens at his Bluewater Greenhouses
The tour was also a great opportunity to see the latest expansion of W. Martens' cucumber greenhouse in Beamsville and hear about their first experiences with growing cucumbers under diffused glass. Growers Bill and Billy Martens now have a great opportunity to compare the two cover materials; one side of their operation is still standard glass, while the new expansion has diffused glass. The crop planted in the old greenhouse was planted 1 day before the crop under diffused glass, but it was six days later in production.
Several researchers welcomed us at Vineland Research & Innovation's new state of the art pre-commercial research greenhouse and gave us an update on their current projects.
Carrie Oorsprong at Northend Gardens in Jordan Station
The day ended with a visit and some welcome refreshments at Northend Gardens in Jordan Station. Owners Carrie and Ted Oorsprong and their son Jon told us all about their adventures with their Medinilla Magnifica. Northend Gardens is the only grower in North America to produce this unique plant and the Oorsprong family gave some insight into how they found out how to grow it commercially and introduce it to the market.
Today and tomorrow we will be walking the Canadian Greenhouse Conference to make our photo report and we are present with a booth at #2014. Feel free to walk by and get yourself a fresh copy of the new HortiDaily & FloralDaily Greenhouse Buyer's Guide '16-'17.
The Canadian Greenhouse Conference is held on 5 & 6 October at the Scotiabank Convention Centre, Niagara Falls, Canada. For more information about the exhibition, visit www.canadiangreenhouseconference.com