|John Van Geest.
In an effort to cut water consumption and optimize the irrigation water they use, the Van Geests installed a sterilization and filtration system at the Grimsby greenhouse in 2010.
WATER NOW IS TREATED AND THEN REUSED ON CROPS
■ Before the new treatment system was installed, much of the water was used only once and then disposed of, often going into municipal sewers in Grimsby. Now, with the new system, any water runoff is contained and reused after it has been sterilized, keeping it out of the city’s drains.
|The heart of the filtration system
Van Geest has also noticed a significant drop in their water and fertilizer consumption. “We’ve cut our fresh water consumption by about half in the first year of operation of this system,” he says. “And we’ve also noticed a 50 per cent drop in our fertilizer use.”
To help fund the installation, Van Geest made use of cost-share funding available through the Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program (COFSP).
This program provides cost-share funding for farmers to implement best management practices that provide environmental benefit on-farm. Funding is available on a first come, first served basis to farmers who have peer-reviewed Environmental Farm Plans (EFP) in place and have projects that have been approved under the program.
DEEP ROOTS IN THE CUT FLOWER INDUSTRY
■ Van Geest Bros. Limited is a family-owned and operated business that had its start in 1959 with a one-acre greenhouse facility in Grimsby.
EFP and COFSP are funded under the Best Practices suite of programs of Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The programs are administered by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture acting on behalf of the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association delivers the programs to farmers.
Lilian Schaer is a freelance writer and photographer in Ontario. This feature was written on behalf of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, www.ontariosoilcrop.org .