|Outdoor production/sales area;
(top) Nafsika Krasanaki, owner of Canada Green.
Photos by Linda Hersey
Located in St. George, New Brunswick, this greenhouse operation was launched in 1989. Krasanaki has Masters degrees in both science and mathematics, but nevertheless decided to become a grower – immigrating to Canada from Greece and purchasing 80 acres at the present site.
The business got off to a slow start. “We first started here to grow living Christmas trees,” she explains, “including evergreens and balsam firs (in pots). We did it for a couple of years, but the market was not yet there.”
She then began working with bedding plants and eventually added perennials to the product mix, along with trees and shrubs. This product combination has proven quite successful for Krasanaki and her four full-time employees.
For five years, Canada Green also grew orchids. To the best of her knowledge, she was the only grower in the Maritimes growing them. The plants were marketed only through the Internet, and shipping costs were quite high. The heating requirements were also substantial, as the plant requires high nighttime temperatures.
She decided to get out of the crop earlier last year. It had become extremely difficult to compete with low-price Asian imports. “The big stores were buying them at a very cheap price,” she explains. “I cannot retail them at that price. That was out of the question.”
She heats with propane, oil or wood, with the latter being the most cost-effective.
Drip irrigation has proved to be worth its weight in gold, she explains.
Production begins in the seven greenhouses in February and all seeding is done by hand. The garden centre operates from May through until early October. Autumn favourites include mums, a broad selection of trees and shrubs, and pumpkins.
They haven’t had too many problems with pests or diseases. Pesticides are applied when aphids become an issue, though only sparingly to avoid harming beneficial insects. Ladybugs are introduced, but unfortunately they don’t stay around long enough to ensure good control of aphids. Diseased plants are immediately discarded to prevent the problem from spreading.
Canada Green offers “about 200 different varieties” of trees and containerized ornamental shrubs. Big sellers include the Pink Diamond hydrangea tree, the Hakura Nishiki willow, and a wide array of hardy roses. There are also herbs, and “hard to find, old-fashioned vegetable varieties,” including English cucumbers and several kinds of tomatoes.
The garden centre offers a large selection of landscaping products, including bronze statues.
One of the major marketing tools is a spring newsletter. Some 20,000 copies are distributed, and customers are drawn from quite a distance.
Staying the course is Krasanaki’s current business strategy. “Quality is number one. I don’t want to diversify too much,” she says, “because you lose focus.”
|Canada Green has an extensive product mix.
||Nafsika Krasanaki scouts the crop.
|Before and after: adding some colour to container sales area.||Statues are a major product line at Canada Green.
Linda Hersey is a freelance writer and photographer based in New Brunswick.