The Fresh Produce & Floral Council’s 2020 Apprentice Class attended two tours in the last week to wrap-up the virtual tour sessions included in programming. On Tuesday, November 10th they attended a tour with Pyramid Flowers and on Tuesday, November 17th they attended a tour with Pete’s/Hollandia Produce.

Fred Van Wingerden, President of Pyramid Flowers took the group through their facilities and showed us the growing processes from planting to flowering and bouquet making. Fred spoke about the ideal conditions needed to ensure maximum production and quality. He also spoke about having his son, Marcos, join him in the business and how his expertise in pest management has allowed them to improve upon their operations, making them more sustainable – especially with regards to growing hydroponic Gerbera daisies with all beneficial insect control and difficult to grow flowers like Matsumoto Asters.

At the final stop on the tour, the Class was able to view the team who assembles bouquets working in action. Fred spoke about the process of creating a bouquet and explained that all bouquet makers are very talented and often start out as flower “runners” eventually working their way up to achieve a bouquet maker position.

Fred stated his excitement about the tour: “It is wonderful to see the interest of young people in the industry and the more they learn about where their products come from, the better they can serve their respective companies.”

At the Apprentice Class’ second tour, the group was able to hear from Baltazar Garcia, Director of Sales for Pete’s/Hollandia Produce and a graduate of Apprentice Class 2017: Brian Cook, President; Alex Tombelli, Head Grower; and Corrie Hutchens, Director of Marketing. Brian started the group off with a little bit of his history on how he was able to get involved in the produce industry and explained Hollandia’s start in the floral community eventually leading ownership to begin growing cucumbers and tomatoes – to finally hydroponically growing butter lettuce.

FPFC Apprentice, Jennifer Miller with Zespri stated how pleased she was with the tour of Pete’s: “I’ve never seen a hydroponic farm before and it was amazing to see how efficient and sustainable it is. The part I found the most interesting was how automated the system is – from seeding to harvest there was almost virtually no human contact as the plants moved through the growing system on a conveyer belt. It excites me for the future to see what new and innovated processes we can come up with to feed the world.”

The FPFC is grateful to our partners and members that made these tours possible including the support of program sponsor Dennis Gertmenian. The Apprentice Program will continue through the remainder of 2020 in a virtual setting and will have more educational sessions, networking opportunities and virtual events to attend.

For more information:
Fresh Produce & Floral Council