Virtual Grower Day | Flowers & Vegetables
August 12, 2020 at
Moving forward with COVID
Bob and Carmen Mitchell, SunTech Greenhouses
Stan Vander Waal, Rainbow Greenhouses
Brian Minter, Minter Country Garden
Len Ferragine, Bradford Greenhouses Garden Gallery
The emergence of COVID-19 was no walk in the park. This panel discussion will touch on changes made by growers and focus on planning for the year ahead.
Robert and Carmen Mitchell
Bob Mitchell grew up in a farm where he learnt all the necessary skills for life: work hard and do it right. The family farm always operated on the leading edge of agriculture technology. Like many other farmers, he also learned how to grow corn and other crops, how to build a farm from scratch, how to run machinery from tractors, planters, and combines. In 1999 he started Suntech Greenhouses Ltd., a greenhouse focused in producing high quality tomatoes for the local market. They can proudly say that Suntech is a brand that Ottawa recognizes and values, and that they have the support of an ample base of loyal consumers that like to eat “a tomato that tastes like a tomato.” Bob’s other half, Carmen, has been in the industry for only five years (after being a city girl), but loves the science behind growing plants and totally supports the concept of growing high quality, nutritious vegetables.
Stan Vander Waal
Stan is known for his direct and solutions-based approach working collaboratively and progressively always believing there is a better way. He is the founder of Rainbow Greenhouses Inc. a 35-year-old family business. The company focuses on indoor/outdoor flowers for the mass market and employs up to 600 people at peak; 250 full time, 150 seasonal workers, and over 200 people work on the merchandising team. Stan has a diverse background in agriculture, which includes hogs and dairy, grains and forages while his core business remains in flowers. Stan is an active advocate for agriculture, serving on many boards, and also past chair of The United Flower Growers Cooperative as well as the current chair of the British Columbia Agriculture Council. He works collaboratively with farm and business organizations, lobbying governments with initiatives to benefit agriculture. He uses his role to empower farmers to take advantage of opportunities in agriculture while communicating with the public and with government to raise the profile of balanced sustainable agriculture.
Minter Country Garden
Brian Minter began sharing his passion for plants with British Columbia’s gardeners when, in 1970, he and his wife Faye purchased Country Garden Store, a garden shop that had been part of Chilliwack’s community since 1957. Brian, a University of British Columbia graduate (BA) and Master Gardener, quickly became BC’s go-to garden expert through his experience at both the garden centre and the display gardens. A recipient of the ‘Order of Canada’, an ‘Honorary Doctorate of Technology’, and many other awards, Brian is well known from his magazine and syndicated newspaper columns and TV and radio programs. Brian is in demand internationally as a speaker by industry and gardening groups alike. Brian received an Award of Merit from the Perennial Plant Association in recognition of outstanding contributions to the perennial industry. He was also inducted into the Gardening Writers Association’s Hall of Fame ‘in recognition of a lifetime of exceptional work and spirit promoting gardening and garden communications to the public.’
Bradford Greenhouses Garden Gallery
The Ferragine legacy began with Francis Ferragine working in the greenhouse industry in 1950’s England. In 1961, Francis started his own family business with their first greenhouse in their new hometown of Bradford, Ontario. Born and raised in Bradford, Len has been involved in the family business for his entire life; first working after school, then full-time while learning all aspects of the business. During Len’s tenure, the company has seen tremendous growth. Bradford Greenhouses has two facilities that supply plugs and liners, as well as finished products, across much of central and northern Ontario. The company also has two retail stores in Bradford and Barrie. Len developed the Barrie location from the ground up in 1993 to its current 192,000 sq. ft. of enclosed greenhouse and nursery retail space. In 2016, Bradford Greenhouses Ltd. was awarded the ‘CNLA Garden Centre of the Year’ award. Active in the horticulture industry and in the community, Len chairs the Garden Gallery Inc. group of companies as well as the group’s Advertising Committee. He is also President of his family’s trust called ‘Roots For Youth’ which provides educational assistance to students who have suffered tragic family loss.