At the beginning of March, we heard the first swans flying overhead. These migratory birds make a long journey from their wintering grounds on the east coast of the US to their nesting area above the Arctic Circle. When the snow starts to melt in our area, they arrive here. In groups of 30 to 50 swans, tens of thousands at a time. In the empty fields there is meltwater, winter wheat or corn stubble, where they find food. The sun slowly shifts over the equator. The swans stay here for 2 to 3 weeks, because the temperature in the nesting area is still -31 ° C.
For us, winter is usually a quiet time to ship. Most of the smaller garden centers are closed because of the cold weather. Because of the frost, there is nothing else to do outside than shoveling snow, playing ice hockey or cross-country skiing. On average, our driver makes a trip with the cargo van to the customers 2 to 3 times a week, a journey of 275 km per day. The first customer is 88 km away, the farthest customer 110 km.
Due to corona, sales are different this year. The local demand varies, depending on the degree of freedom of movement in COVID time. Demand for exports to the US remains strong. There is constantly insufficient product.
Last week there was a demonstration of farmers and greenhouse growers driving their tractors to Norfolk County Town Hall in Simcoe. Over the past year, our top regional doctor has introduced strict housing regulations for temporary foreign workers. The farmers and greenhouse growers are protesting because they want the same rules this year that apply to all other farmers and greenhouse growers in Ontario. The mayor is on their side.
We are curious to find out whether the Minister of Health will interfere in this. Just like in the Netherlands, the vaccination is starting off slow. Not all doses are used here either. We will probably get our shot in May. We wait and see.
Now that the temperatures are rising, the small garden centers are coming out of hibernation. The supermarkets and building centers are also rebuilding their garden sales area. They will be filling up and ordering plants after Easter. Unfortunately, our biggest customer had to close its doors for two weeks due to a contamination.
In our greenhouses everything is ready for this shipping season. Starting mid April, we rent a truck. Now the considerably larger orders are moving out 5 days a week. During this period, we sell 45% of our annual sales. This year we set up large patio plants with Hibiscus for the first time. They will be sold at our daughter’s farm market. The extra-large sizes sold well last year. She’s going to try to expand that.
The sun increases in strength every day. When it is warm enough, the swans fly the next 5000 km. Hold on, we’re almost there.
Angelle van Kleef,
Pot plant grower, Ontario Canada
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