St. David's Hydroponics, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

St. David's Hydroponics marketing manager Gord Bonisteel welcomed us at their greenhouses in Niagara-on-the-Lake and told a bit about the history and vision of the sweet bell pepper grower. St. Davids was founded in 1985 by Dutch immigrants and operates greenhouses in Beamsville and Niagara-on-the-Lake. They have a total of 39 hectares in operation and are currently building the 4th phase of 10 hectares in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
St. David's Hydroponics marketing manager Gord Bonisteel welcomed us at their greenhouses in Niagara-on-the-Lake and told a bit about the history and vision of the sweet bell pepper grower. St. Davids was founded in 1985 by Dutch immigrants and operates greenhouses in Beamsville and Niagara-on-the-Lake. They have a total of 39 hectares in operation and are currently building the 4th phase of 10 hectares in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
St. Davids grows yellow, red and orange sweet peppers as well as several eggplant varieties, which they market themselves to stores in the Niagara Peninsula as well as to grocery chains across Canada and the United States.
St. Davids grows yellow, red and orange sweet peppers as well as several eggplant varieties, which they market themselves to stores in the Niagara Peninsula as well as to grocery chains across Canada and the United States.
Head grower Mary Hendriksen showed us around in the nine hectare third phase greenhouse which was built by Certhon and put into operation in 2014.
Head grower Mary Hendriksen showed us around in the nine hectare third phase greenhouse which was built by Certhon and put into operation in 2014.
The Venlo greenhouses in Niagara-on-the-Lake are equipped with double screen cloth installations and are heated with natural gas boilers. The boilers are also used to generate CO2 and a heat storage tank is used to optimize the energy strategies.
The Venlo greenhouses in Niagara-on-the-Lake are equipped with double screen cloth installations and are heated with natural gas boilers. The boilers are also used to generate CO2 and a heat storage tank is used to optimize the energy strategies.
The crops are grown on double hanging gutters with triple washed coco substrates. Head grower Marty told that from next year on they will be growing everything on rockwool in order to shorten the crop change and start recirculating earlier.
The crops are grown on double hanging gutters with triple washed coco substrates. Head grower Marty told that from next year on they will be growing everything on rockwool in order to shorten the crop change and start recirculating earlier.
Extra grow pipes at the height of two meters. Also the new phase will have these grow pipes installed.
Extra grow pipes at the height of two meters. Also the new phase will have these grow pipes installed.
Marty Hendriksen has been working at St. Davids over twenty years. He explained about the importance of recirculating and how they manage to grow with a completely closed system without dumping any wastewater according to the nutrients management act of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture.
Marty Hendriksen has been working at St. Davids over twenty years. He explained about the importance of recirculating and how they manage to grow with a completely closed system without dumping any wastewater according to the nutrients management act of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture.
As well as this, St. Davids puts a big emphasis on using biological controls. Marty said that especially thrips are a challenging pest to control. As well as this the grower is on the lookout for the pepper weevil pest, which ruined their orange pepper crop 4 years ago.
As well as this, St. Davids puts a big emphasis on using biological controls. Marty said that especially thrips are a challenging pest to control. As well as this the grower is on the lookout for the pepper weevil pest, which ruined their orange pepper crop 4 years ago.
All of the cropwork, tasks and labour is recorded with a Priva labour management system.
All of the cropwork, tasks and labour is recorded with a Priva labour management system.
About 40% of the workers are sourced local and 60 % are seasonal migrant workers. About 85 % of the migrant workers come back every year.
About 40% of the workers are sourced local and 60 % are seasonal migrant workers. About 85 % of the migrant workers come back every year.
St. Davids Hydroponics is picking the last peppers and harvested about 30 kilo per square meter this year. By the end of October they will chop the crops and clean everything with water and bleach. Within three weeks the greenhouse is prepared for the new crop.
St. Davids Hydroponics is picking the last peppers and harvested about 30 kilo per square meter this year. By the end of October they will chop the crops and clean everything with water and bleach. Within three weeks the greenhouse is prepared for the new crop.
Inside the packing hall a large Metazet loader and Greefa line are sorting and packing the peppers according to the customer's needs.
Inside the packing hall a large Metazet loader and Greefa line are sorting and packing the peppers according to the customer's needs.
Marty Hendriksen explained that the packing warehouse has enough capacity for the next phase of greenhouses.
Marty Hendriksen explained that the packing warehouse has enough capacity for the next phase of greenhouses.
New crop twine and screen material is waiting for the crop change.
New crop twine and screen material is waiting for the crop change.

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