Green Circle Growers, Oberlin, Ohio

Frank Paul and Jason van Wingerden take a look at some fresh orchids at the welcome entrance of Green Circle Growers in Oberlin, Ohio.
Frank Paul and Jason van Wingerden take a look at some fresh orchids at the welcome entrance of Green Circle Growers in Oberlin, Ohio.
Our tour started at the potting area, where all of the pots, trays, containers etcetera are being filled with a substrate of choice. The bulk peat line is completely automated and puts the right substrate at the right place. From here, the rolling benches will be send to the greenhouse or transplanting facility.
Our tour started at the potting area, where all of the pots, trays, containers etcetera are being filled with a substrate of choice. The bulk peat line is completely automated and puts the right substrate at the right place. From here, the rolling benches will be send to the greenhouse or transplanting facility.
One of the corridors in between the greenhouses. Right now it is in use as a storage facility for empty trolleys, but during the top season, this corridor is full with plants.
One of the corridors in between the greenhouses. Right now it is in use as a storage facility for empty trolleys, but during the top season, this corridor is full with plants.
Green Circle Growers has 75 acre acres to grow ornamental bedding plants and another 22 acres of newer, modern glass for the production of high end orchids. Because high temperatures can occur in Oberlin, the ornamental greenhouses are equipped with a pad and fan cooling system.
Green Circle Growers has 75 acre acres to grow ornamental bedding plants and another 22 acres of newer, modern glass for the production of high end orchids. Because high temperatures can occur in Oberlin, the ornamental greenhouses are equipped with a pad and fan cooling system.
Because Green Circle Growers grows a very wide range of products, their greenhouses are equipped to be capable to grow any kind of plant. There is pad and fan, heating, energy/shading screens and supplemental lighting from Hortilux/P.L. Light. Next to this each compartment is equipped with spraying booms.
Because Green Circle Growers grows a very wide range of products, their greenhouses are equipped to be capable to grow any kind of plant. There is pad and fan, heating, energy/shading screens and supplemental lighting from Hortilux/P.L. Light. Next to this each compartment is equipped with spraying booms.
In February this year, Green Circle Growers got hit by a fire blaze and a one-acre production barn and five acres of greenhouse structure suffered significant damage. During our visit, a team of workers was busy with restructuring the area and pulling up a new greenhouse.
In February this year, Green Circle Growers got hit by a fire blaze and a one-acre production barn and five acres of greenhouse structure suffered significant damage. During our visit, a team of workers was busy with restructuring the area and pulling up a new greenhouse.
Thanks to their large acreage they are capable to grow multiple ranges of products: they grow the whole arrangements of Spring, Fall and Christmas products throughout the year.
Thanks to their large acreage they are capable to grow multiple ranges of products: they grow the whole arrangements of Spring, Fall and Christmas products throughout the year.
14 of these trucks are shipping the products to retailers, DIY stores and box tores throughout 48 states.
14 of these trucks are shipping the products to retailers, DIY stores and box tores throughout 48 states.
"Six Vyncke biomass boilers are supplying the greenhouse complex with enough heat to warm the greenhouses. In the wintertime, 16 truckloads with wood are burned everyday. The boilers reach a temperature of 120 degrees Celsius and have a total capacity of 177 million BTU. By heating the greenhouse with biomass boilers, Green Circle Growers annually save 60.000 tons of CO2. The reason for GCG to use biomass instead of natural gas is the high oil price of the last years, which makes it more attractive. "The price of the wood chips simply is more stable, the transport of the wood chips is the biggest cost."
"Six Vyncke biomass boilers are supplying the greenhouse complex with enough heat to warm the greenhouses. In the wintertime, 16 truckloads with wood are burned everyday. The boilers reach a temperature of 120 degrees Celsius and have a total capacity of 177 million BTU. By heating the greenhouse with biomass boilers, Green Circle Growers annually save 60.000 tons of CO2. The reason for GCG to use biomass instead of natural gas is the high oil price of the last years, which makes it more attractive. "The price of the wood chips simply is more stable, the transport of the wood chips is the biggest cost."
The boilers are split in two sections of three. The entire building is symmetric. Three boilers for the left side and three boilers for the right side. The wood comes from local sawmills or wood processing facilities.
The boilers are split in two sections of three. The entire building is symmetric. Three boilers for the left side and three boilers for the right side. The wood comes from local sawmills or wood processing facilities.
This is the control room of the Vyncke boiler system. The boilers are burning day and night, also during the warmer summer time, because the orchid production requires a constant temperature . Even in the summer time, they are kept on 28 degrees Celsius and a radiation pipe of 40 degrees Celsius is needed in the greenhouse.
This is the control room of the Vyncke boiler system. The boilers are burning day and night, also during the warmer summer time, because the orchid production requires a constant temperature . Even in the summer time, they are kept on 28 degrees Celsius and a radiation pipe of 40 degrees Celsius is needed in the greenhouse.
Two hot water storage tanks enable the boilers to burn in the most efficient way. The heath is stored in one of these buffers that can hold 2 million gallons of water each. From there the hot water is pumped to the radiation pipes in the greenhouses.
Two hot water storage tanks enable the boilers to burn in the most efficient way. The heath is stored in one of these buffers that can hold 2 million gallons of water each. From there the hot water is pumped to the radiation pipes in the greenhouses.
A big Caterpillar shovel truck is transporting chips non stop from the storage towards the biomass boilers. This barn can store enough wood chips to heat the greenhouse for two weeks.
A big Caterpillar shovel truck is transporting chips non stop from the storage towards the biomass boilers. This barn can store enough wood chips to heat the greenhouse for two weeks.
In 2006 GCG decided to start an orchid business as they saw it was a strong crop in Europe with good opportunities in the USA. After they developed a strong brand, they started with 6 acres of modern Venlo in 2006. Today they have 22 acres, of which the last stage three acres are under constructions right now. Each acre consists 250,000 orchids.
In 2006 GCG decided to start an orchid business as they saw it was a strong crop in Europe with good opportunities in the USA. After they developed a strong brand, they started with 6 acres of modern Venlo in 2006. Today they have 22 acres, of which the last stage three acres are under constructions right now. Each acre consists 250,000 orchids.
Locker rooms at the orchid facility. Green Circle growers is one of the largest employers in Lorain County with more than 600 employees in the regular season. In the spring, they have a labor peak, and 1000 employees are hired.
Locker rooms at the orchid facility. Green Circle growers is one of the largest employers in Lorain County with more than 600 employees in the regular season. In the spring, they have a labor peak, and 1000 employees are hired.
Growing an orchid plant takes 18 months. It starts with small starting plants that have been propagated in Germany. The plants are six months old when they arrive in Ohio. Then it takes another six months to become a full grown plant. In this cell the plants are waiting not longer then a week in a storage room before they will be transplanted.
Growing an orchid plant takes 18 months. It starts with small starting plants that have been propagated in Germany. The plants are six months old when they arrive in Ohio. Then it takes another six months to become a full grown plant. In this cell the plants are waiting not longer then a week in a storage room before they will be transplanted.
Inside the container is a a special gel that contains nutrition, moisture and hormones.
Inside the container is a a special gel that contains nutrition, moisture and hormones.
These women are cleaning and sorting the plants and later they are transplanting the plants into propagation trays.
These women are cleaning and sorting the plants and later they are transplanting the plants into propagation trays.
GCG has 2 hectare to propagate the youngplants them selves. Next to this they do also propagate some youngplants for partner growers.
GCG has 2 hectare to propagate the youngplants them selves. Next to this they do also propagate some youngplants for partner growers.
In the front you see recently transplanted material. It takes six months to become the plant that you see in the back. Step by step, it is moving toward a selection section to pick out the right plants for production.
In the front you see recently transplanted material. It takes six months to become the plant that you see in the back. Step by step, it is moving toward a selection section to pick out the right plants for production.
During our visit, Dutch greenhouse builder Prins Group was busy with constructing the recent 3 acre expansion.
During our visit, Dutch greenhouse builder Prins Group was busy with constructing the recent 3 acre expansion.
Frank Paul in the new section. This is the most recent expansion, but he said that they are not finished building so far and that there are plans for further expansion in a later stage
Frank Paul in the new section. This is the most recent expansion, but he said that they are not finished building so far and that there are plans for further expansion in a later stage
For the normal bedding plant production, Green Circle Growers do not use additional CO2 fertilization. For the orchid production they use pure CO2. They do not have a exhaust filter on the Biomass installation, because this is not an attractive investment.
For the normal bedding plant production, Green Circle Growers do not use additional CO2 fertilization. For the orchid production they use pure CO2. They do not have a exhaust filter on the Biomass installation, because this is not an attractive investment.
Next to the bedding plants and orchids, GCG also is the owner of Express Seed. Together with Express Seed and Just Add Ice Orchids they have a total turnover of US$ 180 million.
Next to the bedding plants and orchids, GCG also is the owner of Express Seed. Together with Express Seed and Just Add Ice Orchids they have a total turnover of US$ 180 million.
10,000 lux is lighting the crop with 600 watt electronical lamps. In orchids they use the supplemental lightings as additional light during the daytime and generally not to extend daytime.
10,000 lux is lighting the crop with 600 watt electronical lamps. In orchids they use the supplemental lightings as additional light during the daytime and generally not to extend daytime.
A fogging system is used to achieve a humidity of 65%.
A fogging system is used to achieve a humidity of 65%.
Underneath the tables are air tubes that are connected to a Priva ClimateOptimizer for cooling and heating
Underneath the tables are air tubes that are connected to a Priva ClimateOptimizer for cooling and heating
When the plants are fully grown, the plants are entering a sorting facility. A smart camera system sorts them into 26 different grades and place them on a blue socket with an ID tag. Later they will get sorted into batches of 27 plants.
When the plants are fully grown, the plants are entering a sorting facility. A smart camera system sorts them into 26 different grades and place them on a blue socket with an ID tag. Later they will get sorted into batches of 27 plants.
Workers are checking the quality, placing the clips and the plant stakes.
Workers are checking the quality, placing the clips and the plant stakes.
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The smart sorting system puts the orchids in the right order on the right place. He collects batches of 27 plants, put these in 3 blue trays (1 tray =9 orchids). Later the trays go into a tray buffer. A full tray buffer is the same as a full table. Later they will be placed on a smaller table with 297 plants and transported to a blooming space for the next 3-4 weeks before they get packed and shipped.
The smart sorting system puts the orchids in the right order on the right place. He collects batches of 27 plants, put these in 3 blue trays (1 tray =9 orchids). Later the trays go into a tray buffer. A full tray buffer is the same as a full table. Later they will be placed on a smaller table with 297 plants and transported to a blooming space for the next 3-4 weeks before they get packed and shipped.
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Blue tray with 9 plants.
Blue tray with 9 plants.
Frank Paul in the blooming greenhouse.
Frank Paul in the blooming greenhouse.
Workers preparing the boxes. The packaging contains Ethyl block and heat packs for temperature control to extend the shelf life of the orchids and to deliver the best quality after long shipping periods.
Workers preparing the boxes. The packaging contains Ethyl block and heat packs for temperature control to extend the shelf life of the orchids and to deliver the best quality after long shipping periods.
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One of the workers packing the plants.
One of the workers packing the plants.

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