October 20th, 2020

Greenhouses working to safely welcome gardeners


By Jensen, Randy on April 25, 2020.

Karen Barby and her crew at Green Haven Garden Centre have been so far only been serving customers with pre-ordered curbside pickups, but are hoping to have their green house open by May 1. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

As people look for around-the-house activities during their isolation, local greenhouses are gearing up for increased traffic as spring has arrived in southern Alberta.

Garden centres in Alberta were recently deemed an essential service and many local centres are working to accommodate the crowds of people looking to fill their gardens with vegetables and flowers. Greenhaven Garden Centre in Lethbridge says business has been increasing, but they have been preparing for it.

“It has definitely been a challenging year with the COVID. We are doing curbside pickup and we still are growing our bedding plants. We have a limited planting crew but they are planting constantly and we are getting our crop ready to sell for May, so we are getting a lot of people that are ordering seeds and starting to get plants and fertilizer,” says Karen Barby, co-owner of Greenhaven Garden Centre.

“We still have the same products, it’s just a little bit different right now and the biggest thing is that people are concerned if we are going to have any plants, and we are because we have been planting since February.”

With garden centres only recently being designated as essential, many are working on how they will interact with the public in their facility, while following social distancing and sanitary standards.

“The biggest thing is that it is going to be a different shopping experience. It will be like groceries . . . you will need a list, know what you want and have to follow the aisles to go through and limit how many people can come in the greenhouses; and one, maybe two, people per purchase and no children,” says Barby.

“We have a lot of plants, our numbers are pretty accurate year-to-year but this year we have really bumped up our vegetable production. We have probably grew twice as many tomatoes and we are just starting the cucumbers and squash, so we are really set up to do that seeding.”

Other local garden centres are anticipating the rush for planting as they work at finding ways to protect their staff and their customers during this time.

“The Country Blooms Greenhouse staff are now implementing the procedures outlined in the public health directives for essential business, including increased sanitization and social distancing measures to protect our staff and you,” said Country Bloom in a statement. “The modification to our business from dropping off containers for custom planting orders and emailing or phoning orders for curbside pickup will remain in effect until we are ready to open our doors to the public on Monday, April 27.”

Alberta has now joined Manitoba, British Columbia and Quebec at designating garden centres as essential services, with the increase of interest in families wanting to grow their own vegetables and decorate their gardens while the spend times at home.

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