The Hull venture opened this spring with a new automated greenhouse and larger growing and retail space where customers can browse flowers, vegetables and other plants. “Between the pandemic and running out of things last year, we wanted more space and automation to help with growing and to be more customer-friendly,” said Jan Zandstra, who owns the business with her husband, Bart.
Automation has been on Jan’s bucket list for a few years, but she jumped on it when they decided to upgrade their greenhouses last year. They previously had four long, narrow greenhouses but were running out of space for growing and wanted a better retail space. “We needed better ventilation, we needed more space and we needed to upgrade,” Jan said.
The new greenhouse is 48-by-60 feet and has a range of automated and mechanized features to aid in temperature control. Panels in the roof will automatically lift, usually opening a gap of a few inches, when the internal temperature reaches 77 degrees. They close when it gets down to 73. The automation helps maintain ideal growing temperatures. “That has shown up on the plants, it has been really helpful,” Jan said.
Customers are showing up earlier than usual to make sure they can get what they want for their gardens before she runs out. Jan said that’s not something she’s concerned about this year, since she increased all her orders to account for more demand. “There’s just that bit of nervousness because of the pandemic,” she said. “But we’re ready for it and we’re glad to have this new space for our customers.”