The winter two years ago was one of the snowiest in Minnesota history. The state received almost twice as much snow as the annual average, coming up just a few inches shy of eight feet.
On December 11, 2010, with 17.1 inches, a single storm registered as the fifth largest snowstorm on record for the Twin Cities. Add this total to the seasonal snowfall of 34 inches in Minneapolis, which ranked as the third-highest snowfall on record through December 13, and the table was set for greenhouse disasters.
Linder’s Greenhouses was one Minnesota grower who experienced the snowfall in full force that year. Started in 1911 by Albert Linder, Linder’s had been around to experience the four snowiest winters prior to 2010. But that December, with a total accumulation of close to four feet in 36 hours, the inevitable happened.
“Four of our free-standing structures collapsed,” says Peter Simko, the engineer in charge of field operations at Linder’s. “They were some of the oldest greenhouses in our whole operation.”
The company, with Simko’s help, began discussions with greenhouse structures vendors immediately, and they set up a bidding session with very tight deadlines. The bottom line for Linder’s was that it absolutely needed its four greenhouses replaced before the start of the 2011 season.
“We would not miss any square inch of production area [and the] goal was to have a season like nothing happened,” Simko says.
The winning bid was Harnois’ 30-by-148-foot greenhouse with four-foot arch spacing.
“We already have about 30 freestanding Harnois greenhouses, and our whole gutter-connected range is from them too,” Simko says.
The real challenge came in construction. In the 14 years Simko has worked for Linder’s, he says building those four greenhouses was one of the hardest tasks he’s had to do. His crew built them despite freezing temperatures, frozen grounds and lots of snow.