Art VanWingerden on the Importance of Investing in Your Greenhouse Structure

Art VanWingerdenGreenhouse Grower recently asked Art VanWingerden, Co-Owner and CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, NC, the following question:

What is your philosophy on continuing to invest in the integrity of your greenhouse structures?


Here is Art’s reply:

When it comes to reinvesting in the structures we have, [we maintain] for the longevity of the building. We want the building to last to the next generation and the generation after that.

If we decide we’re going to build something new, a lot of it depends on what we’re trying to do. If we’re building an MX style greenhouse, where we’re going to have tables, cranes, and all that, the poles have got to be strong enough to hold the crane rails up so the cranes can run up and down the crane rails. Plus, we’ve got to be able to hold the roof up and we want an MX style roof because of the length that they are, so we’ve got to have enough strength to hold everything. Pad and fan is not going to work because the greenhouses are too long. We’re 1,500 feet from one end to the other generally, so you can’t get a pad and fan to work that far. The natural ventilation of MX works the best for what we’re doing.

With the addition of [the York perennial operation in South Carolina], we don’t have that perfected yet. We’re really just covering crops. We’re not heating; we’re just trying to keep the snow, rain, and cold off. We’re looking around to see what we want — is it just a cold frame that is already available, or in typical Metrolina fashion, do we want to design something on our own?

There’s not one greenhouse manufacturer we go to and say, “Yep, that’s what we want every time, we’re going to do that exact same thing.” If we’re doing a Dutch table system or doing plugs, I don’t know if I really want an MX greenhouse. I might want more of a Venlo style greenhouse because I don’t need to vent the whole thing. It really depends on the crop that we’re growing in it and then picking the right greenhouse for the crop that we’re trying to grow.