(Pexels)

‘I just want to survive:’ Greenhouses struggling with economic reality of COVID-19

Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Quebec have designated garden centres as an essential service

Nick Zannis is thankful his greenhouse established online sales five years ago, now that the retail world has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The doors of Golden Acre Home and Garden in Calgary are allowed to be open as an essential service in Alberta, but there are ample warnings about social distancing.

A steady stream of customers, many of them wearing face masks, walk through the store even though spring bedding plants aren’t ready and the selection of seeds and flowers is somewhat limited.

READ MORE: Civil Liberties group seeks amnesty for recreational tickets issued during COVID-19

Zannis said having an online presence puts his greenhouse on less shaky ground than many others.

The business has sent products to as far away as Nunavut and Nova Scotia in recent years but will be focusing primarily on the Calgary market now.

Online orders are up by 2,000 per cent from a year ago, Zannis said. But it’s not a gold mine.

“It’s very expensive to operate. Now you have to pay somebody to go and do the shopping,” he said.

“But the online store has kind of kept us afloat … We’re just trying to survive, honestly. I just want to survive this year.”

In addition to Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Quebec have designated garden centres as an essential service. Other provinces, including Ontario, have forced them to keep their doors closed.

“We are allowed to offer pickup at the curb, so we are doing that,” said Mary Reid, owner of Green Thumb Gardening Centre in Nepean, Ont.

“A customer would either phone or email us what their order is, then we’d get it ready and say you can come and get it.”

Reid said she has basically had to start online orders from scratch but isn’t able to do e-commerce.

She hopes gardeners will still be keen to shop when restrictions are eased.

“It’s not a pretty picture at all … it depends on how far into lockdown we get.”

READ MORE: Plants ‘operating 24/7’ to meet consumer demand for food amid COVID-19

The executive director of the Canadian Garden Council, the national umbrella body for provincial and national garden organizations, said there’s been a huge increase in the number of Canadians who want to start gardening.

Michel Gauthier said it’s a struggle for centres that have to stay closed.

“A lot of growers and greenhouses are having issues. Right now, there’s a big movement to say horticultural products are essential and should be essential for the well-being of people,” he said.

“We’re saying … if we want people to have that gardening experience and spend some time in their garden, then they need to have access to the material and access the product.”

Don Vanderwerf said it’s almost like business as usual at his Kel-Lake Greenhouses in Kelowna, B.C.

Demand for seeds, soil and vegetables has been strong, he said.

Peak gardening season begins in three weeks to a month. Vanderwerf said products will be spread out on benches and into the parking lot at his site.

Still, Vanderwerf is expecting a financial hit. He’s already losing business in flower baskets for hotels and restaurants.

“We’ll be down a bit. But I feel fortunate that I’m not owning a restaurant or a pub, because they’re hurting.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

High water and flooding hits Clearwater

Potential for roadblock on Clearwater Valley Road due to potential washouts

Tk’emlups, Simpcw First Nations chiefs call on Tiny House Warriors to leave Blue River protest camp

“The Tiny House Warriors are not from Simpcw, nor are they our guests in our territory.”

TOTA recognized as Safe Travel Destination

Announcement confirms successful effort by communities to follow new health guidelines

PHOTO: Wells Gray Riders Association holds Canada Day parade

Riders don’t let the rainy morning dampen their spirits

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read