February 1, 2011

Berger Shaped By Consistent Quality, Responsible Peatland Management

John Allen, the U.S. national sales manager for Berger Peat Moss, has been with the company since it first achieved an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard in 1994. And in Allen’s years with Berger, he’s realized one certainty about ISO. “ISO hasn’t gotten us the customer, it keeps the customer with us,” he says. Last November, Berger culminated the pursuit of yet another standard – VeriFlora’s standard for responsible peatland management – making the company the only North American peat producer whose product meets standards for both ISO and Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), which administers the peatland-specific VeriFlora certification program. The driving forces of the two standards are, of course, different. ISO focuses on product quality while VeriFlora is more about environmental management. But both standards have helped Berger focus its business on meeting the needs of its grower customers and the environment. Maximizing Quality With ISO Berger’s original […]

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January 20, 2011

Sun Gro Sold To Roofing Company

Peat producer Sun Gro Horticulture has entered into a support agreement with IKO Enterprises, a privately held Canadian company that produces and distributes roofing, waterproofing and insulation board products. IKO has agreed to make an offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Sun Gro, other than shares IKO already holds. IKO will acquire Sun Gro for $6.60 per share. Currently, IKO and its affiliates own or control about 19 percent of Sun Gro’s outstanding shares. The transaction is expected to close in March 2011. “We are satisfied that the transaction with IKO results in the best value available to our shareholders,” says Mitch Weaver, president and CEO of Sun Gro and a member of its board of directors. Adds Derek Fee, manager of corporate communications for IKO: “We are very pleased to be increasing our ownership interest in Sun Gro and look forward to building […]

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November 29, 2010

Berger Certified For Responsibly Managed Peatlands

Because quality is of the utmost importance to Berger Peat Moss, the company performs a multitude of tests on its product before taking it to market. Berger Peat Moss has earned VeriFlora’s new certification for responsibly managed peatlands, joining peat producers Fafard et Frères and Premier Tech Horticulture, both of which earned certification last week. “Berger Peat Moss’s commitment to the standards of the VeriFlora norm is very significant.” says Claudin Berger, CEO. “We are proud of the work we’ve accomplished and we will continue along this path over the long term.” The VeriFlora certification was recently developed in a collaborative effort among members of the scientific community, environmental organizations and government departments related to the peatland sector and the peat industry. VeriFlora-certified businesses are required to comply with specific criteria, and their compliance is validated through external audits completed by an independent third party. Certification takes into account the […]

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October 28, 2010

The Peat Report: Setting The Record Straight

A new website is online at www.tourbehorticole.com/en to provide general information to the public about peat while offering a communications platform to support networking among business members of the Québec Peat Moss Producers Association and the partners of those businesses. The site’s visitors will find information about peat bog ecology, peat moss production, Québec industry management practices, various uses of sphagnum moss, and more. A blog will soon be added for those interested in participating in discussions related to peat production and horticulture. Among the members of the Québec Peat Moss Producers Association are Berger Peat Moss, Fafard, Lambert Peat Moss, Premier Tech Horticulture and Sun Gro Horticulture.

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October 26, 2010

ANLA Grassroots Effort On Biomass Fuels Succeeds

A springtime grassroots initiative sparked by the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) has succeeded in influencing a government ruling on biomass fuel. The federal Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) had been intended to create new alternatives for fuel by encouraging agriculture and forest owners to cultivate biomass crops. However, the program had the unintended consequence of creating a new, more lucrative market for bark via federal subsidies that would have depleted the nursery and landscape industry’s access to the products, which are used in nursery growing, landscaping and retail. Retailers and nursery owners were already seeing the price of bark mulch rise in anticipation of subsidies. The BCAP program states the subsidies would not be eligible for “higher market” products, but never clarified what that would entail. According to ANLA, hundreds of comment letters were generated from concerned growers, landscape professionals and retailers through ANLA’s Lighthouse network during the […]

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October 21, 2010

The Peat Report: Seeley Attendees Sound Off

Danny Takao OFA President “When my mother started this business in 1960 a 17- x 17-inch flat would weight about 35 pounds because it was mostly native soil, sand and wood products. If the greenhouse industry went back to that type of soil with that kind of weight, we would be set back tremendously. “Think about how much less could be shipped on a truck and how much more it would cost to ship one flat of bedding plants. Think of the claims of injured backs. If your employees had to lift 35 pounds all day, you wouldn’t have any employees. “Our growing technology is based on peat moss as the main ingredient, so we would have to retune all of our pH and fertilizing regimes based on what material would be available in your region of the country.” Rick Brown Riverview Flower Farm “We rely on peat moss and […]

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October 21, 2010

The Peat Report: Fafard’s Hugh Poole On The Peat Industry

Hugh Poole, director of technical services for Fafard, recently connected with Greenhouse Grower about all things peat moss for the November 2010 Peat Report. GG: Do you believe peat moss is a sustainable resource? HP: The peat moss used in the horticultural industry is sustainable in North America. It is a slowly renewable resource that regenerates itself in nature faster than it is presently being harvested. GG: What does responsible peat harvesting mean? Do you believe your company harvests peat responsibly? HP: Responsible peat harvesting means a sincere respect for this valuable resource, the land and the people. The Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) and Canadian provincial authorities have developed a set of common-sense guidelines that the major peat-harvesting companies have pledged to follow. They include: 1) an environmental impact study regarding endangered species and drainage patterns, 2) a survey and audit of the bog to determine harvest potential and limitations, including setting […]

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October 21, 2010

Slideshow: Tour A Restored Peatland

Greenhouse Grower visited the Bois-des-Bel peatland during its visit to Quebec in September. Check out photos of the site and how restored peatlands compare to abandoned ones.

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October 21, 2010

The Peat Report: Suppliers Speak Up

Beyond peat’s basic functions, its role at your greenhouse operation and the fact that it’s sourced from Canada and parts of the United States, how much do you know about the main ingredient in North America’s growing mixes? Are you aware of the criticisms the peat industry has drawn over the last two decades–or, as many peat producers would characterize them, the misconceptions their critics have? According to these companies, the misconceptions are numerous, from the number of acres of Canadian peatlands harvested to the speed at which peat regenerates. But now, the peat industry is beginning to speak up and share its story with those involved in greenhouse floriculture. Peatland restoration, for example, is one industry component that shines a light on the efforts of peat producers. But even some producers admit they haven’t done a good enough job promoting their restoration work. The criticisms, after all, seem to […]

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October 21, 2010

The Peat Report: Breaking Down Bog Restoration

The Bois-des-Bel peatland in Quebec, Canada, serves as a 27-acre outdoor laboratory where researchers have spent the last decade fine-tuning restoration techniques. Behind door number one of that outdoor laboratory is a narrow strip of land–a control experiment–that shows exactly what happens when peatlands are abandoned after years of harvesting. Twenty years since Bois-des-Bel harvesting was completed and another 11 years since it became a project site, little vegetation is present on that abandoned control strip. Among the vegetation present are a few invasive plants. Add in the fact that peat is not reaccumulating because the strip is not wet enough, and this Bois-des-Bel control area offers a glimpse at what our world would be like if peatlands were not being restored. Behind door number two at Bois-des-Bel is a completely different world–a peatland full of vegetation and one that’s redeveloped the sphagnum peat mosses that are necessary to sequester […]

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October 21, 2010

The Peat Report: A Case For Canadian Peat Moss

The theme of last summer’s Seeley Conference, floriculture’s environmental footprint, included a discussion on how sustainable peat is as a soil amendment. The discussion stemmed from part of a presentation highlighting the new Sustainable Sites Initiative created by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanical Garden. The three organizations are teaming on the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. But two recommended requirements of the initiative–using peat-free planting media and avoiding sphagnum peat as a soil conditioner–sparked a debate at the Seeley Conference. To further explain the requirements, as well as the reasons SITES drafted them, Greenhouse Grower tasked the SITES with sharing some perspective. We also asked Mark Elzinga, president of Elzinga & Hoeksema Greenhouses, to share his reaction to the requirements regarding peat and […]

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October 21, 2010

The Peat Report: Peat Producers Take A Stand

Paul Short, president of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA), wrote a letter Aug. 10 to Susan Rieff, executive director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, in response to the creation of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES). To download the full SITES report to which Short is responding, visit www.sustainablesites.org/report. Short’s letter  is as follows: Dear Susan: The work of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanical Garden in the creation of the Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmark 2009, and “The Case for Sustainable Landscapes” document is an important contribution to the advancement of sustainable land practices.  It is because of this importance that issues of resource use and management that are stated or implied in the documents need to be correct. The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmark […]

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