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INDUSTRY INNOVATORS IN B.C. OYF SPOTLIGHT


January 28, 2008
By Greenhouse Canada

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Pieter and Anita deBruin of Devan Greenhouses have been among the first to embrace new technologies.

30Pieter and Anita deBruin of Devan Greenhouses in Abbotsford were named this year’s B.C. Region Outstanding Young Farmers at the fourth annual Agricultural Gala in Abbotsford.

The deBruins received the prestigious award from Chuck Strahl, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Pat Bell, provincial Minister of Agriculture and Lands. Strahl was particularly proud to make the presentation, noting each of his four children worked at Devan Greenhouses when it was located in Chilliwack.

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After working in a Richmond greenhouse since childhood, Pieter decided to start his own greenhouse shortly after getting married. In 1993, the deBruins sold their Richmond home and used the equity to buy an old Richmond plastic-roofed greenhouse, which they dismantled and reconstructed in Chilliwack. After building their business for six years, they relocated to undeveloped land near the Abbotsford-Langley border where they built a glass greenhouse with an ebb-and-flood system, which allowed them to recycle their water. This was the second area greenhouse to use Russian ECA technology to produce environmentally friendly, biologically active solutions electrochemically.

In 2003, Devan added B.C.’s only open-roof glass greenhouse, bringing their total greenhouse area to 1.4 hectares. In 2004, they switched from natural gas heating to a 250-hp wood pellet boiler heating system, dramatically reducing energy costs.

Because they are now located on the busy Fraser Highway, the deBruins have added a growing retail section. With the retail centre, Devan now employs 30 to 40 people.

During the spring and summer, Devan grows a wide variety of annuals marketed through their retail centre or the United Flower Growers auction.

Also reaching the 2006 OYF finals were Grant and Justine Keefer of Yellow Point Cranberries of Ladysmith, Kevin and Annemarie Klippenstein of Klippers Organic Acres in Cawston, and Bob and Marianne Maljaars of Inline Nurseries of Chilliwack.

A judging panel of retired senior banker Bruna Giacomazzi, Abbotsford appraiser Glen Lathrop, and dairyman and 1984 BC OYF winner Louis Schurmann selected the winner. “It was a very difficult job to nail it down to one winning couple,” Giacomazzi said, noting all four finalists “started with very little and built their enterprise to what it is today.”

Nominees are judged on conservation practices, production history, financial and management practices, and community contributions.

The B.C. competition is sponsored by Agri-Digest, B.C. Broiler Hatching Egg Commission, B.C. Pork, Canadian Bankers Association, Country Life in B.C., Deloitte & Touche, Evergro & Westgro Canada, Friesen Equipment, KPMG Enterprise, Pioneer Hibred, TerraLink Horticulture, Unifeed, and United Flower Growers Co-op Association.