Room for greenhouse development in Newfoundland

Newfoundland might not be the first place to think of when discussing greenhouse agriculture. Nonetheless, a group of local entrepreneurs and national professionals came together in St. Johns from February 21 to 23 for the Newfoundland Greenhouse Conference.

"Although the greenhouse industry is small, it is a very active group that is determined to grow bigger in the near future", explained Cees VandenEnden, of Hortisource greenhouse consulting. Vandenenden was one of the speakers at the conference, which was focused on new developments, introduction to hydroponic technology, IPM programs and the use of supplemental lighting.

According to VandenEnden, the presentations given at the conference were varied and mixed in with regular breaks for refreshment, but more importantly, for networking. "As one of the speakers I was impressed with the reactions of the participants, the open and relaxed atmosphere and, world famous, hospitality."

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada's most easterly province. The island of Newfoundland measures 405,000 square kilometers with about 540,000 people living there. VandenEnden explained that this creates opportunities for the development of greenhouse vegetable production but also for flowers. "There are opportunities to grow more products locally as the logistic issues for imports are the challenge now. All products come in by ferry."

However, energy is the big hurdle for the greenhouse industry to develop. "There is no natural gas infrastructure and most greenhouses are heated by oil and propane. Almost all material supply has to come from the mainland and Ontario is the biggest supplier at present. Due to the distance this is a significant added cost."

According to VandenEnden, the harsh climate provides a change for profitable commercial greenhouse growing, especially due to support by local authorities. "Within limitations, Newfoundland has the possibility to grow its greenhouse industry for local needs of fresh produce and flowers. Agricultural Newfoundland got a big boost this week with the announcement from the Provincial Government that 64,000 ha of land will be made available for farming."

More than 100 participants attended the conference that was organized by the Newfoundland & Labrador Horticulture and Producers Council. Members Bob Osborne, Chris Swyers, Pat Puddester, Chris Lester, Marc Schurman, Sean Dolter, Evan Murray, Stacey Putt and Nita Abbott were among the speakers. As well as this Nova Scotia Horticulture specialist Rachael Cheverie and the invited speakers from out of province/country Michael Brownbridge (Vineland Research and Innovation Centre), Cees VandenEnden (HortiSource Consulting Inc.), Arco van der Hout (Delphy) and Shalin Khosla (OMAFRA, by tele-conference.) gave several presentations at the event. Click here for the hand outs of their presentations.

For more information:
HortiSource Consulting Inc.
Cees VandenEnden

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