During Cultivate’18, More Profitable Sustainability (MPS), which develops and manages sustainability certification for the ornamental industry, recognized two different growers for their sustainability efforts.
It started with honoring the achievements of Darwin Colombia SAS by presenting recognition for obtaining the MPS-A qualification.
Darwin Colombia began perennial unrooted cutting production in 2002. In August 2014, Ball Horticultural Company acquired the company, and since then it has significantly increased production and sales. Besides its own greenhouses, the farm also has a tissue culture lab on site that supplies certified stock material to the farm and to the local flower industry.
After customers in North America and Europe increasingly asked about certification, Darwin Colombia started the process of obtaining MPS-ABC Sustainability Certification in early 2017. As part of Ball Horticultural Company, which has sustainability as a primary driver within the organization, it was a natural step forward.
“Knowing that you are sustainable but also having independent proof through the MPS-ABC qualification is one of the key elements of our certification,” says Arthij van der Veer, MPS General Coordinator for North & Central America, who kept in communication with the production locations of Ball Horticultural Company in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Chile. All of these locations are currently MPS-A or MPS-A+ certified, and “this shows the dedication of the local teams to sustainable production,” van der Veer says.
Cristina Brusco, General Manager of Darwin Colombia, says that the certification process was challenging.
“It made us think deeper about looking for safer active ingredients in our production to comply with MPS-ABC,” Brusco says. “As we researched alternatives, it also offered the opportunity to work more with biological controls.”
In addition to this step toward integrated pest management, other efforts have been implemented in the area of sustainability. Darwin Colombia is currently using 90% of its water from rain collection, and it uses coco fiber as a substrate, which allows the company to irrigate less frequently and become more efficient in fertilizer and water use.
Young’s Plant Farm Receives MPS-GAP Certification
MPS also honored the achievements of Young’s Plant Farm in the field of sustainability at Cultivate’18 by presenting it with MPS-GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certificate.
Young’s Plant Farm (number 34 on Greenhouse Grower’s 2018 Top 100 Growers list with more than 1.8 million square feet of environmentally controlled production) was established by Gene Young in 1961, and remains a third-generation family owned- and operated business. Young’s has three locations in Alabama and North Carolina, with a total of 40 acres of indoor and 40 acres of outdoor high-quality annuals, perennials, poinsettias, and mums that are grown and shipped to large retailers.
Young’s Plant Farm initiated the certification process in 2014 by starting with the MPS-ABC certification and following with the MPS-GAP certification. In the past four years, Young’s and MPS have worked together to use the MPS-ABC certification to further improve sustainability. Even after obtaining MPS-ABC certification, the quest towards implementing sustainability practices did not stop. In 2017, van der Veer started working with Young’s on the implementation of MPS-GAP.
“MPS-GAP has provided us with a way to measure our company’s safety, product traceability, sustainability, and environmental awareness,” says Drew Young at Young’s Plant Farm. “Obtaining this certification has helped our company immediately improve in these areas, while also helping us plan for even higher future goals.”
MPS-ABC certification is recognized around the world as the international standard. Although it is based in The Netherlands, MPS is active in 46 countries, with more than 3,000 growers participating in MPS-ABC around the world. In North America, 76 growers are currently participating in MPS-ABC.