Canada: Schriemer's Family Farm rises from the ashes with high-wire greenhouse

When a fire destroyed some greenhouses at Schriemer’s Family Farm in Otterburne, near Winnipeg back in January 2013, Trevor Schriemer was determined the company would rebuild, and rise like a phoenix from the ashes…

Three acres of brand new state-of-the-art double poly high-wire greenhouses and other parts of the operation were gutted in what the police, and the Schriemer family believe was arson.

“They [RCMP] found a gasoline can where the fire started, and we don’t have any gasoline powered equipment in that area, it’s all electric. There was no need for gasoline to be there,” said Trevor, before adding that the culprit has yet to be apprehended.

Three acres of the Schriemer's Family Farm were destroyed by a fire in January 2013 (Source:

The fire started in the loading dock area before spreading through three greenhouses and wiping out the whole service area, cooler, offices, irrigation systems and electrics. To compound the damage, and because of the freezing temperatures at that time of year (it was - 40), once the electrics were gone, all the heating pipes froze and cracked.

Since then, they’ve gone on to rebuild, and used the opportunity to expand and make some improvements; but it’s been a frustrating process dealing with the insurance companies.

Although the farm had good coverage with specialised greenhouse insurance - to replace their losses along with business interruption insurance to cover lost profits, the insurance firms have been slow to pay out and Trevor says the whole insurance process has been ‘a big struggle’. However, he is confident they will resolve everything in the long term.

“You pay premiums to the insurance company and you have what you think is the best policy possible but when you start to collect, they have all kinds of road blocks. They don’t give back very quickly, you have to fight for your money,” he says.

Trevor Schriemer (left) at the re-opening of his greenhouse (source:

The new build has gone ahead though and has been expanded by an additional acre bringing the total to four. This time they are not taking any risks and they’ve installed a fire alarm throughout the whole greenhouse and it’s linked to the misting system.

Also included within the fully lit (14,000 lux) facility are energy and shading curtains to combat the harsh Manitoba climate; but it’s the high-wire system that enables Schriemer Family Farm to grow cucumbers year round.

“This allows us to take advantage of a better price in the market in the winter time when the only product available is from Mexico,” says Trevor.

The high-wire greenhouse (source:

Although it costs more to run a high-wire greenhouse, Trevor believes that with good production (his stands at 300 cucumbers per m2), the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

“Costs have been a little more expensive this winter. It’s been a cold winter so the gas costs have been higher, but the prices have been better this winter too.

“Everything is determined by the price. If the price is good then a little bit extra doesn’t matter,” he concludes.

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