May 10, 2011

Emergency Responders

Larry Gude won’t forget Feb. 5, 2010 anytime soon. That’s the date a monumental winter storm dumped two feet of snow on his greenhouses in Frederick County, Md., forcing a collapse of about 30,000 square feet at Gude Brothers Greenhouse. “The snow was very deep and very wet,” Gude says. “One of the sections of houses we had was structurally overwhelmed by the weight. It didn’t go down like dominoes; it went down in sections. It was a mess.” The thought was always in the back of Gude’s mind that his venlo-style greenhouses could collapse under the weight of a heavy snow. Gude had, after all, prepared for a day like Feb. 5 with his insurance agent, Hortica’s Luke Eckley, upon renewal each year. Gude’s first call following the collapse was to Eckley. His next was to Tom Richey, Hortica’s vice president of property claims, who referred Gude Brothers to […]

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May 6, 2011

Growers Supply: Enhance Your Image

Mark Halla had been in the nursery and landscape business all his life. After working many years in the family business his grandfather began in 1942, he and his wife, Kay, started The Mustard Seed Landscaping & Garden Center in Chaska, Minn., in late 2003. As their business grew, they moved from their basement office to a leased farm to buying their own property on Highway 212. As they settled into this space, they decided they needed a greenhouse for growing, maintaining and selling annuals and perennials. Their newest greenhouse is a ClearSpan Majestic gutter-connect greenhouse from Growers Supply. The structure is 84 feet wide with three 72-foot-long bays. “We chose the Majestic because it worked not only for retail sales but could also be used for year-round growing,” Mark says. “As a new business, watching our expenses has been crucial and we were able to save over 50 percent. […]

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May 6, 2011

Westbrook Greenhouse Systems: Going With Glass

In May 2010, Paul Cavicchio Greenhouses of Sudbury, Mass., suffered a fire that destroyed about 85,000 square feet of double poly greenhouses along with the crop and all of the equipment that was inside. After the cleanup, Cavicchio decided to use this as an opportunity to change and upgrade that part of the facility. The Cavicchio team looked at current crop usage, maintenance, heating and irrigation and decided to replace the destroyed greenhouses with gutter-connected, curved glass greenhouses from Westbrook Greenhouse Systems. The new greenhouse has large panels of tempered glass with two continuous ridge vents on each peak for maximum natural ventilation. This greenhouse style is not new to Cavicchio. They have been operating 60,000 square feet of Westbrook curved glass houses as their propagation area since the late 1990s. For owner Paul Cavicchio and head grower Glenn Harrison, the choice was a simple one. The curved glass greenhouse […]

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May 6, 2011

Rising From The Ashes

Just outside the town of Villa Canales, Guatemala, lies Vita Farms, a 37-acre nursery with a long history of supplying young plants to our industry. In the course of a few days last May, however, a storm of fire, wind and water leveled the entire facility. Employees watched as their livelihoods were flattened. Pacaya is one of the many volcanoes in Guatemala, lying just southwest of Villa Canales. Normally a popular tourist destination, Pacaya woke with a fury May 27, erupting suddenly and unexpectedly. It spewed fire and ash for miles in every direction. At the farm outside Villa Canales, ash rained down and covered everything in sight. Mounds of the fluffy gray ash quickly gathered atop the greenhouses. Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom declared a state of calamity in the region adjacent to the volcano, and people were urged to stay in their homes to avoid the rain of ash […]

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May 6, 2011

Reasonable Greenhouse Retrofits

Today’s economic climate isn’t exactly ideal for taking on large investments, like the debt you might incur constructing new greenhouses. But while some say the best greenhouse is one that is paid for, this isn’t always true, according to greenhouse engineer A.J. Both of Rutgers University. Both says growers should evaluate their structures’ efficiency before deciding whether building new or retrofitting existing greenhouses is the right decision. “I say a greenhouse that is paid for is a greenhouse that is ready to be replaced,” Both says. “Every situation is different and yes, building new will cost money, but so does operating an inefficient older structure. A thorough economic analysis may be needed to evaluate the best option.” Kurt Parbst of shade cloth and screen manufacturer Ludvig Svensson, agrees, but offers some goals for a successful approach to structure improvement. “Sometimes greenhouses that are paid for are very inefficient in their […]

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May 6, 2011

Van Wingerden Greenhouse Co.: Mountain Grown Plants

Dutch Heritage Gardens in Larkspur, Colo., recently installed three acres of the new MXIII greenhouse from Van Wingerden Greenhouse Co., bringing total production to six acres in the modern MX open-roof style. Founded in 2006, Dutch Heritage Gardens sits on 100 acres of land with room to grow. State-of-the-art facilities are equipped with automatic irrigation systems, a climate-controlled weather station, a full-size production barn and two loading docks. The wholesale greenhouse operation produces bedding plants, perennials, vegetables, herbs and combination patio planters in the spring and then mums, fall planters and poinsettias in the fall. Primary customers are grocery store chains and local retail garden centers, as well as fundraising organizations that provide plants to schools. The new greenhouse incorporates two fixed poly peaks and one operable poly peak in a 36-foot bay. This design provides a unique style of naturally ventilated greenhouse using inflated double poly and provides an […]

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May 6, 2011

Harnois Greenhouses: Converting To Organic

Innovation often lies as much with growers as it does with greenhouse manufacturers. A greenhouse is but another tool to an experienced grower. The creativity growers demonstrate in maximizing their structural investment and the ability with which they utilize the physical space and structural features of the greenhouse to continually test the limits of production is inspiring. Just this year, one of Harnois’ customers, Serres Sagami of Sagami Greenhouses in Quebec approached the greenhouse manufacturer with a vision to propel business into the organic market. The grower had been producing tomatoes conventionally with much success for many years and could have continued to keep customers and his banker happy for many more. However, he was driven to explore ways to push his business forward in a very competitive market. The turning point came when Sagami decided to add an additional 4.2 acres of organic tomato production to his 8.65 acres […]

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May 3, 2011

The Thrill Of Building New

Floricultura CEO Kees Schoone comes from a long line of Dutch orchid growers, and he’s been a part of more greenhouse expansions in The Netherlands than he can remember. But Floricultura’s latest build, a 400,000-square-foot construction in Salinas, Calif., was a particularly refreshing project for Schoone–and for good reason. Schoone had no limitations in establishing a North American location. He wasn’t locked by land or forced to build around an existing facility. Instead, Schoone had an 80-acre property on which he could build and a wealth of ideas he could apply without any physical boundaries. “Building from scratch is the most fun. It really is sort of thrilling,” Schoone says. “You start with a fresh piece of paper and build exactly the way you want.” Coming To America Floricultura saw an opportunity in the United States because only a handful of young plant growers here specialize in orchids. Many of the […]

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March 16, 2011

Nexus Winner Takes Spring Trials As Prize

Nexus Corporation raised $1,230 American Red Cross disaster relief at last year’s OFA Short Course through its prize wheel, and it awarded one grand prize for a tradeshow attendee to visit the California Spring Trials. The prize happened to be won by Tom Mahoney of Mahoney’s Garden Centers in Massachusetts. Mahoney’s has both a growing operation and eight retail garden centers. To see other community-based projects that employees of Nexus have been involved in, visit Nexus online at www.nexuscorp.com and click on the section titled: “Things We Support.”

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February 22, 2011

Aquascape Green Roof Collapses

Heavy snows in the Chicago area caused the covered parking lot structure holding portions of Aquascape Inc.’s green roof to collapsed on February 13. The The company’s main warehouse sustained window damage in the collapse. According to the company, nearly 21 inches of snow had fallen in less than 24 hours accompanied by freezing temperatures, later followed by above freezing temperatures causing a quick thaw. An ice dam at the base is suspected to have backed the water up over the parking structure causing its collapse. The accident occurred on a Sunday, so no one was injured. “We are so lucky that no inventory was damaged,” added Roberto Cosme, Aquascape’s Warehouse Manager. “As soon as we are cleared to go back into the building, it should be business as usual.” The snow damage caused a temporary loss of power to the Aquascape headquarters, affecting the company’s phone, e-mail and Internet. […]

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February 16, 2011

Fire At Florida Orchid Grower

A fire swept through Sun Bulb Company, an orchid grower in Arcadia, Fla., on Sunday. A passerby alerted fire authorities before catastrophic damage was done to a production area and adjacent growing areas at the 55-year-old company’s main facility. Authorities indicate the cause of the fire was an electric malfunction in an industrial compressor used in the production area. No injuries were reported. Sun Bulb did sustain significant losses to plants and pottery, but the company continues to do business despite the incident. “Not a single scheduled shipment was missed on Monday, Feb. 14,” says Vice President Rod Hollingsworth. “All orders shipped as usual, and we do not expect this to negatively impact our production moving forward.” Sun Bulb’s other growing facilities in northern Desoto County and Apopka, Fla., have played instrumental roles in providing immediate backup supplies of orchids, ferns and other tropicals. Learn more about Sun Bulb Company […]

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