US (VA): Grower helps feed public demand for potted orchids

On a recent Friday, workmen were installing a camera on the gas meter outside the office and greenhouse of Color Orchids in Culpeper County.

Owner Ben Van Wingerden said the camera will help him monitor gas usage at the business and prevent him from having to come check it in person at 2 a.m.

Luckily, he and his family live right across State Route 3 from the greenhouse.

“If we didn’t live right across the street, we would have moved there by now,” said Van Wingerden, 30.

Though his crop grows in a climate-controlled greenhouse, rather than outdoors, and in pots above ground, rather than in soil, “at the end of the day, we’re farmers,” Van Wingerden said.

“We still depend on the weather. Twenty straight days of rain slowed down the crops, and it also affects how people purchase. I’m still checking on the crop in the middle of the night,” he said.

“It’s farming, just with a lot more control. But it’s still farming.”

According to the Virginia Farm Bureau, orchids are now the top-selling potted flower in the country, having shoved aside the poinsettia. It’s an industry worth $288 million, with sales of 35 million nationwide.

Read more at The Free Lance-Star (Adele Uphaus-Conner)

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