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State of the Industry: Editorial: January 2015

Change inevitable and essential

December 9, 2014  By Dave Harrison

Welcome to 2015 and another year of challenges and opportunities in Canadian greenhouse horticulture – hopefully more of the latter than the former.

The coffee shop and trade show floor happy hour consensus was that 2014 was an “OK” year for most, and “better than average” for others. Sales were good, yes, but margins could have been healthier.

The good news, then, is we have substantial optimism and confidence in the industry as the new year unfolds. There are opportunities to build upon, if incorporating change is part of your business mantra.


Change is essential today. If you’re growing the same crops today the same way you grew them five or 10 years ago, you’re missing out on significant efficiency, yield and quality gains. Innovations and technologies are being introduced each year, along with breeding improvements.

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have – and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up,” said consultants James Belasco and Ralph Stayer in their book, Flight of the Buffalo (1994).

At Greenhouse Canada, we initiated a series of major changes last fall.

  • Our website was completely overhauled to make it easier to navigate for key information. It’s also mobile friendly, so bookmark us on your smartphones and tablets and take us everywhere.
  • Our weekly e-newsletter was revamped to better deliver the news and reports our readers depend on.
  • A complete redesign of the magazine has been underway for the past few months, the result of which will appear in your mailboxes and online with next month’s edition.

This issue includes our first annual State of the Industry report, a discussion with a number of industry leaders across the country. Here are a few of the themes.

The “local” label: Consumers are looking for this, and it’s a sales opportunity all growers should investigate, whether with an on-farm outlet, roadside stand, farmers market, or direct sales to local shops.

Lighting: The experts also noted the expansion of LED research, in which Canada is a world leader. In particular, leading-edge work is underway at the Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre in Harrow, Ontario, and at McGill University. This form of lighting will change the way crops are grown once system prices fall.

Cogen: Interest remains high in these systems, as greenhouses are the perfect fit. Not only is electricity generated, but the heat and CO2 are also captured. It is pure energy optimization, and a clear sustainability winner. Governments across Canada would do well to encourage more greenhouse cogen projects.

Health benefits: If you want a healthier home and office, house plants are one answer. The science is conclusive. The challenge is getting the message out to consumers.

Every new year offers an adrenaline rush in anticipation of new or growing markets. The greenhouse sector is clearly poised for continued growth. Are you preparing for change?

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