Gerard Schouwenaar is the owner of Orchard Park Growers, based in St. Catharines, Ontario. Orchard Park entered the greenhouse industry in 1990, after approximately 20 years where their crops were primarily peaches and apples. For the first ten years the greenhouses were filled with mostly tomatoes, but as the prices of vegetables continued to drop, the company had to switch to ornamental horticulture by the late 1990’s. Orchard Park has since specialized in growing potted Gerbera. Says owner Gerard, “We supply finished potted Gerberas for immediate sale, but also parent material for other growers in Canada and the United States.”
A few years ago, Schouwenaar began focusing on updating the current facility. “We wanted to expand and, at the same time, see if we could raise the standard of our crops. First, we had to take a thorough look at all of our systems in order that we could expand and thereby do our work in the best possibly way. In addition to work efficiencies, heating, watering and internal logistics, we looked at our growing system. At that time, we went to the Netherlands to observe how growers grew and managed their crops there.”
Watch this video to hear more of Gerard’s story and the experiences of Head Grower Matthew Terlouw, with the ErfGoed Floor.
It was there that Gerard first became acquainted with the ErfGoedFloor. “At that point it was unknown in Canada. It’s fair to say I was amazed. We were specifically drawn to the fact that growers had a wide variety of crops grown on the floor, allowing for an easy switch between crops. We are currently focusing on potted Gerberas, but who knows where the market will be in five years? It is necessary to have a system that allows you to change crops without incurring problems or having to make huge investments.”
The ErfGoedFloorwas installed last year. “Of the two hectares that we have in total, 7,500 m² is covered witha cultivation floor with the ebb-and-flow system and floor heating.” According to Schouwenaar, ErfGoed is a particularly friendly company to work with. “Together we considered what we really wanted and needed. The people at ErfGoed really know what they’re doing and the collaboration with our people was great, so the installation of the floor went without a hitch.”
The first season using the ErfGoedFloor at Orchard Park is now behind them. “We’re very happy with the floor’s flexibility. It’s true that you can grow many crops and any various sizes on it. The crop quality that this floor yields is very good – we had a great first year growing with this system.”