Greenhouses preparing for busier growing season

EAST CENTRAL — Things have been a little different for staff at local greenhouses this year but things will slowly return to normal as the Saskatchewan growing season starts.

With the restrictions of COVID-19 in place, Paul Kneeshaw of Humboldt’s Misty Gardens said they have been doing curbside pickups for customers looking for their gardening and landscaping needs.

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Starting the beginning of May, Kneeshaw said they will be opening up the greenhouse but there will still be COVID based rules in place. Only a limited number of walk-in customers will be allowed in the store at a time with social distancing and controlled directional traffic as in place in the store. Kneeshaw said staff will also have a stringent cleaning regime to keep customers and staff safe.

For Wright’s Greenhouse owner Angie Bragg, she and her staff are just getting ready to open for the new season and are also preparing for what COVID-19 has in store. Both of Bragg two locations in Beatty and Melfort will face different challenges as they are different sizes and therefore will only be allowed a certain number of people based on their square footage.

“Now people are going to have to wait to come into the greenhouse. On May long weekend or Mother's Day weekend it’s super busy and now people are just going to have to wait. I think people are understanding.”

With such a restriction being put on in store customers, Bragg is also going to offer curbside pickup and delivery and is working on her website so customers can start using that for ordering.

Everything has changed at Lake Lenore’s Co-op Greenhouse as they are also preparing for the new growing season with new staff and new ways of cutting back potential virus spread, said Rochelle Voz, the manager. Seven to eight people will be allowed in the greenhouse at one time with customers being directed down the aisles with new exits and entrances put up by the staff.

Even with the challenge of reducing the number of customers, with so much self-isolating going on, everyone is expecting more people to start growing gardens and flowers.

Kneeshaw said he and his staff have the greenhouse completely full of stock and ready for everyone to get growing.

“People are stuck at home and there are people buying seeds that have never bought before and are asking for advice. Gardening might be a big thing this year because we’re limited on what else we can do,” he said.

Bragg said food insecurity is also getting people out and growing their own vegetables so she has increased her stock of vegetables more than flowers or other plants.

“I think we're going to have a lot of new gardeners that have never gardened ever, before like vegetable gardening.”

Even before they opened up, Voz said they were already sold out in some things.

“I sold out of my seeds, not even open yet. The seeds are gone. I had to order again. Everybody's phoning to find out if we're going to have stuff and it's going to be so hard to keep people coming in and out.”

And hoarding has become a worry for everyone with all three locations worried about people stockpiling plants and supplies, just like people have done with household items.

Kneeshaw said there is no need for this as they have plenty of supplies available.

“We’ve grown as much as we’ve always grown so they shouldn’t be panicking that there won’t be anything here. Our greenhouse is full.”

Bragg has assured everyone that there is no reason to panic buy. There is plenty of stock ready for both Wright’s locations, and there is no need to start hoarding.

“If that does happen, then we're going to have to put something in place.”

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