Zero discharge at Boekstyn Greenhouses

Photo report: Canadian growers face new high standards in water treatments

Water legislations and regulations can be a thorn in the eye of many Canadian greenhouse growers. But some growers are forward thinking by not seeing this as a threat but as a chance. One of these growers is Boekestyn in St. Catharines. During the Canadian Greenhouse Conference Bus Tour, we could see with our own eyes how the growers of Boekestyn / Flora Pack are dealing with stricter regulations without doing concessions to quality or their business.

Ed Boekestyn of Flora Pack welcomed us at their greenhouses. Flora Pack is a family owned business that offers a variety of products such as Chrysanthemums, Kalanchoes, Poinsettias, Easter Lilies, Amaryllis, Spring Bulbs and Spring Seasonal.

The packing and shiping area: In 1977, Flora Pack began as a co-operative of greenhouse growers to market their holiday crops to chain store customers and wholesalers. Today, Flora Pack is solely owned by the Boekestyn’s. As Boekestyn Greenhouses, the Boekestyn family have been growing quality flowers since 1962.

Boekestyn grows ornamentals year round in their greenhouses. Growing in the most sustainable and responsible way is of paramount importance at Boeksetyn. The growers are trying to keep an optimal crop with the use of the least amount of pesticides or agrochemicals. Biological crop protection and sustainable fertilizers scheme's play a key role in their cultivation.

Jay Wieringa and Ed Boekestyn shared extensive information on the adjustments they did on their water processing; due to stric regulations in Canada, many growers are more or less forced to take a closer look at their water handling. This is a result of Ontario’s legislation for zero runoff, in place since 2006, but only recently enforced. It's a hot topic in the Canadian greenhouse industry: Many growers in Ontario are currently developing abatement plants for the facilities, because after a visit from the Ministry of Environment, they have 60 days to submit the plan and 6 to 9 months to implement it, and this is weeding out growers who can’t afford to make the investment.

“In some cases it’s not as difficult as it needs to be, but we definitely don’t want boiler blowdown and loading dock water back on the greenhouse plant” states Andrew van Geest of Zwart Systems, a company specialized in advanced greenhouse irrigation; Zwart designs systems for irrigation and water storage, rainwater harvesting and water management on the farm,” affirms Andrew. Zwart Systems recently helped Boekestyn Greenhouses in setting up a more scientifically-based water filtering system to remove the solids. “They are injecting peroxide, which works for their crop, with an oxidiser for disinfection, and we are blending that water and distributing it across the greenhouse,” explains Andrew.

“Sometimes,when you are doing recirculation, you may have some benches or crops you arenot comfortable with, so we recirculate that water, we send it to waste, whereit ends up in the same drain water pit, and it goes back over the filter to beblended with fresh water", Andrew explained. All in all, Andrew assures that BoekestynGreenhouses strove to ensure that not only were the necessary standards met,but that they were actually exceeded. 

Ed Boekestyn explaining the old and new situation at his farm. He told how the lengthy and costly process went for them. Boekestyn told that they were trying to get financing for the project withing the Growing Forward 2 program. Unfortunately the subsidy was rejected. Ontario’s Growing Forward 2 committeeclaims it puts money where they think will be most beneficial; they advertisethat there is plenty of money to give and everyone is welcome to apply if doingsomething that will save water, but in reality they have added too many levelsof bureaucracy. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out.

During the tour it was shown how diverse the company was. "Unlike in the Netherlands, here you have growers who grow so many varieties in the greenhouse, which makes it more difficult and unique to manage the water", said Andrew van Geest of Zwart Systems.

The employees were really busy packing orders of mums in the greenhouse.

Megan is responsible for the biological crop protection at Boekestyn Greenhouses. The biggest threats for their crops are spider mites, which great reproductive capacity enables them to cause enormous damage in a short period of time. Thanks to Megan's knowledge of biological natural enemies, Boekestyn is able to grow their crops completely free of pesticides for the biggest part of the year.

HortiDaily would like to thank Boekestyn Greenhouses for their warm welcome during the Canadian Greenhouse Conference Bus Tour.
As well as this we would like to thank the Canadian Greenhouse Conference for the very informational Bus Tour. In the coming week we will run several more stories from this event.

If you would like to join the Bus Tour next year as well, please contact the Canadian Greenhouse Conference at :  or send your requests to Glenna Cairnie (e-mail).

In February 2015, our own HortiDaily High Tech Greenhouse Tour will also visit a very impressive Orchid farm in Holland; Ter Laak Orchids. Click here to obtain more information about this free bus tour.

If you would like top obtain more information about Zwart Systems, please contact:

Zwart Systems
4881 Union Road
Beamsville, ON, L0R 1B4

+1 905-563-9606
Andrew van Geest

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