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    Flower growers get assistance with U.S. exports

    By Allan Benner, The Standard
    Tuesday, August 29, 2017 6:20:16 EDT PM

    While planning a major expansion in the months to come, owners of a St. Catharines flower-growing greenhouse also hope to expand their sales into the U.S. thanks to new federal funding.

    St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle visited Colonial Florists Ltd. Tuesday to announce federal funding of up to $393,070 for Flowers Canada Growers, to help increase exports to markets in the United States for the more than 1,000 greenhouses across the country represented by the organization.

    Colonial Florists co-owner Ron van der Zalm said his greenhouse business exports about one-third of the flowers it grows to U.S. customers.

    To meet the demand, the greenhouse purchased a second location in St. Davids, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, after outgrowing its current home on Broadway Avenue in St. Catharines.

    “We bought a 72-acre farm. It has a three-acre existing greenhouse on it, and it’s slowly where we’re going to expand,” van der Zalm said. “And yes, that does mean more jobs and expansion.”

    He said the family-run greenhouse operation plans to add 15 to 20 new jobs to a workforce which at peak season hits as many as 70 workers.

    Bittle said the funding is earmarked to help growers showcase their world-class flowers to Canadian and American customers, including $178,000 “to help greenhouse growers like Colonial get up to speed on new requirements” for the export of their produce.

    “The United States is by far our largest customer for flowers. This investment will give your valued customers the assurances … that Canadian flowers will continue to meet their needs for quality, safety, innovation and timely delivery,” Bittle said.

    “The second part of this investment will help Flowers Canada Growers build markets in the United States, through investment worth $214,000.”

    That funding will also support outreach activities including “intending meetings and trade shows, hosting international sales missions, publishing directories and buyers guides, and building a social media marketing campaign.”

    Flowers Canada Growers executive director Andrew Morse said enhanced U.S. exports are a vital part of increasing the growth of Canada’s floral industry.

    “Our goals here are very clear, and that is getting our industry to continue to grow,” he said. “We’re sending presently $300 million of product across the border to the U.S., and our challenge is get that back up to the over $400 million that we used to do prior to the (economic) downturn of 2007.”

    While announcing the funding, Bittle said “Colonial Florists is part of a vibrant agricultural industry here in the region, helping to grow our economy, and enhance our homes and neighbourhoods with beautiful flowers.”

    “Investments to the agricultural industry is significant to our region. The industry with their sprawling fields, large greenhouses, have been a cornerstone of the agricultural sector for decades,” he said.

    Bittle told members of the van der Zalm family that their business “clearly shows the results of all your hard work and dedication.”

    “For over the past five decades, the van der Zalm family has built an innovative, diversified world-class business that is a strong driver of the economy here in Niagara,” he said. “And to think it all started with a small flower shop on Ontario Street, and a little acre of vegetables.”


    Twitter: @abenner1

    Flower growers get assistance with U.S. exports

    A new federal grant will help the national organization create jobs across the country, while increasing consumer access to plants and flowers

    FCG represents more than 1,000 greenhouses across the country that employ more than 20,000 workers

    source: http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/08/29/flower-growers-get-assistance-with-us-exports

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