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Greenhouses buzzing with activity

More early bird gardeners keep local greenhouses hustling

LAKELAND - Catching the phone moments before the call was sent to voicemail came Kim Meinzinger’s voice nearly out of breath on the other side of the receiver, “Hello, Moe’s Greenhouse.”

Meinzinger and her husband Chuck Moe own and operate Moe’s Gardens and Greenhouse located 15 minutes South of Bonnyville. Right now, they are in the midst of the year’s busiest season.

May is always a busy month for Canadian growers and suppliers, especially in northern regions where cold temperatures run deep into the ground of boreal region.

With gardeners not wanting to miss out on a second year of competitive planting, greenhouses are feeling the buzz.

There is a balance, says Monique Bardal owner of Owlseye Greenhouse and Gardens located just outside the town of St. Paul. “Our rural community is always hesitant of buying too early because it extends the time they have to care for plants before they go in the ground.”

Shopping early

However, there is a pressure to buy early this spring after many shoppers arrived to already-sold-out racks in 2020. Racks that in previous years would be heaping with flowers and plants.

The lockdown last March caused a surge of new gardeners to pick up their spades and start digging. The increased demand outweighed the supply in many cases. 

“COVID created a busyness around greenhouses and we've noticed the same thing as last year, this year,” says Bardal.

The growth in demand was felt across the board by both indoor and outdoor plant growers and sellers. Last year both Meinzinger and Bardal found their products scooped up earlier than a typical season.

For Bardal the solution was bringing in more products for more in-person and online customers.

Ordering early and bringing in double the inventory from last June, Bardal says, this year she hasn’t had an issue replenishing her stock from Canadian growers and suppliers.

Back at  Moe’s Gardens and Greenhouse, Meinzinger says they have spent 30 years in business growing and blooming despite various economic and production issues.  COVID challenges are another just another hurdle to grow from. 

Meinzinger says she has no plans of expanding operations of their 23,000 square foot operation that houses nine growing structures kept cool to harden the seedlings in preparation for their transition to the northern growing zone.  She and her family are already working 14 hours a day, seven days a week throughout April and May. 

“We like to do as much as we can tackle, and do it well," she said, pausing the phone interview for a moment as she gets notice that a truck has arrived with a load of trees and shrubs —  and she has to get back to the bustle of the greenhouse’s operations.

Getting your greens

As the province heads into the second spring-to-summer season of pandemic measures, gardens have become one way that people are finding peace in the pandemic. The closure of many businesses and services has made browsing through the aisles of greenhouse’s a way for Lakeland residents and cottagers to enjoy a rare public outing.

“The people who are shopping here really want to shop here, and they appreciate what we're trying to do,” says Bardal. “For the past year, people just want green in their houses.”

Owlseye Greenhouse and Gardens is requiring customers to book a time slot before arriving at the location, or ordering online and picking up purchases within 48 hours.

Moe’s Gardens and Greenhouse is allowing guests to arrive without reservations but occupancy is set to five people per greenhouse.

For details on the operating hours and practices of other greenhouses in the region, check the Discover Local online directory at www.lakeland.ca/directory  for contact information