Director of Growing Ivan Tchakarov is known for his ready smile, enthusiasm and willingness to learn and share knowledge with any grower who asks for it.
Tchakarov is originally from Bulgaria, where he received a degree in horticulture and agriculture. He moved to England in 1994, and worked at Burelane Farm in Cambridge and Trent Valley Growers in Derby County. In 1999, when he was studying at The Ohio State University, he came to Metrolina Greenhouses for an 18-month internship, during which he worked in the tissue culture laboratory.
Tchakarov was hired on as a plug grower and became director of propagation in 2006. Five years later, he was promoted to director of growing, in charge of all production across Metrolina’s 167 growing acres.
Tchakarov spent 10 years developing plug procedures from start to finish. His emphasis on plug culture, scheduling, implementing new ideas and techniques and setting specific crop schedules for every crop Metrolina grows, helps keep the notoriously high-efficiency greenhouse operation running smoothly. Growers from around the world travel to witness the automation Metrolina has adopted, and Tchakarov uses this technology to create an ideal environment for the operation’s many crops.
“Metrolina is one of the premier growers in the country, due to 40 years of continual investment in automation and the best overall growing equipment,” says Rick Grossman of Express Seed Co. “Ivan, along with his growing staff of many, have implemented the best modern thinking in growing techniques across a broad range of year-round production.”
Tchakarov is known for consistently presenting his ideas for improvements, with common-sense plans and reasons for why they will work. Readily adaptable to change and upgrades in both equipment and processes, Tchakarov instills confidence in his crew and likewise, the Van Wingerdens give him the leeway to experiment with production and cost-saving practices.
“Ivan’s contributions are many, but his primary one is in the identification of any problems in the greenhouse and his relentless pursuit to solve them,” says Greg Gabrels of Sakata Seed America. “He keeps digging until viable, repeatable solutions are identified and implemented.”
Not one to speak much about his own accomplishments, but rather touting the work of his peers, Tchakarov’s humility and leadership speaks volumes, both at Metrolina and in the greenhouse.
“I came to this country with $50, hardly speaking the language, and I am truly living the American Dream, thanks to the Van Wingerden family, who gave me such a valuable opportunity, and my two daughters, Alexis and Govana, who are my inspiration,” Tchakarov says.