Delta, B.C. – Students studying greenhouse vegetable production at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) took a field trip to Delta recently to learn how to grow and operate a green business.
Hosted by Delta View Farms, students got a tour of the company’s modern 18-acre tomato glasshouse unit, and the chance to chat with head grower Gordon Yakel and business owner Eric Schlacht.
From what to look for in “reading” the crop, to the tools Yakel uses to steer plant growth toward profitability, students got a close-up look at the technical aspects of being a grower in an increasingly competitive and global industry.
"Each time we visit this company we get treated to an honest and open learning opportunity with some of the best operators in the greenhouse vegetable business. It’s these sorts of partnerships with local businesses who have a progressive outlook and a ‘giving back’ attitude that make this such a great industry to be a part of,” said Gary Jones, the KPU School of Horticulture faculty member facilitating the course.
Delta View Farms has been a KPU program partner for several years, supporting students in more ways than one. As a relatively new greenhouse business owner, Schlacht is putting his money where it matters by investing in modern equipment and facilities, as well as the next generation of growers. He has already hired one of the students in the class as an assistant to Yakel.
The B.C. greenhouse vegetable industry is expanding steadily year after year. The second-largest producer in the country, about one in five of Canada’s greenhouse vegetables are produced in B.C. With total Canadian veggie exports on the rise – totaling $1.3 billion in 2013, up 24 per cent from 2012 – good growers are becoming increasingly important to find.
More industry statistics are available through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. For more on KPU’s science and horticulture programs, visit: kpu.ca/science-hort.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 124 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at www.kpu.ca.
Media Specialist, KPU