Burnaby Lake Greenhouses is always pursuing ways to increase our product output while maintaining top product quality, all while striving to minimize our environmental impact. This is why we have combined our state-of-the-art technology with policies that matter.
"As owners, we make a point to work hands-on in every aspect of our company to ensure that our premium quality and service is being maintained for our customers."
Growing quality products starts with quality soil, and an integral part of our soil is compost. All of our natural waste materials, such as plants, flowers and soil waste, are composted on-site in a covered facility. As these natural materials break down and decompose, they are churned and rotated to ensure even and complete composting. This produces a nutrient rich, all-natural compost that we mix through our base soil, resulting in a high-quality growing media. This is an approach that is unique to Burnaby Lake Greenhouses. Producing our own compost requires more effort and time to blend it into the soil and to grow plants in, but we believe it helps produce plants that are stronger and easier to care for by our customers.
Large amounts of water are used throughout our facility every day; it is inevitable in this industry. With this usage in mind, a large portion of our facility is equipped to minimize water waste by recapturing as much of the irrigation water as we can. Before the water is reused, it is filtered, and pH and nutrient balanced - adding new water as needed to reach optimal nutrient levels - before being stored in multiple water tanks on-site, until the time comes for it to be cycled back into our irrigation system. Reusing water saves a tremendous amount of water and also recycles the fertilizers added into the water, enabling a significant reduction in fertilizer usage.
At the end of any given season or holiday, we are left with tens of thousands of empty used pots, whether due to having unsold product, plants being used in our planter gardens, or upsizing plants into larger pots. All remaining natural materials gets turned into compost, as you read above. To minimize our plastic waste, we collect all intact empty pots and treat them in a steam chamber for an extended period of time. This steaming process sterilizes the pots, allowing them to be reused for new crops in the coming seasons. This process plays a massive role in reducing waste and unnecessary plastic usage from our facility.
Biodegradable & Recycled Materials
Another way we are reducing plastic waste from our facilities is by using biodegradable and recycled materials for our product packaging wherever we can. For example, using cardboard boxes for packaging our products (and recycling cardboard in-house), paper sleeves instead of plastic to product our plants during shipping when possible, bamboo stakes for displaying product care labels, and paperboard and recycled plastic for our product care labels whenever we can.
When you buy one of our plants and it has one of our paperboard plant care labels stuck into the soil, the material will start breaking down after a couple of weeks if left in wet soil. To preserve the information and as much of the label as possible, we suggest removing the label from the soil and cutting off the bottom point of the label that was stuck into the soil.
Having such a large facility to maintain and so many varieties of crops to care for, intentional energy conservation is essential to producing quality products with the benefit of minimizing our impact on the environment. In being mindful of our environmental impact, we are more intentional with our use of natural resources and have decreased our use of the power grid whenever possible.
To heat our facility, we rely on eight natural gas powered boilers. These boilers heat large amounts of water to temperatures that are set based on weather and crop needs. This hot water is then pumped throughout our facility, creating a warm and humid growing environment when needed for our crops.
Another step in providing ideal conditions to grow our crops to meet our standards is controlling day length and direct sun exposure for our plants. To do this, our facilities have a series of curtains operating close the the roof of the building structure. These curtains include a double layer of shade curtains to reduce direct sun exposure and increase ambient brightness, and may also include solid black curtains for using when blocking out all light is required for specific crops. Both of these curtain systems function as energy retention curtains, like shades and curtains in your home. When closed, these curtains provide substantial energy savings by reflecting heat back into our facility, insulating our facility and maintaining ambient temperatures so we do not have to run our boilers as often or as long to reach optimal growing temperatures.
In order to maintain our product quality while increasing product output, we have always been on the lookout for new technology to adapt and implement in our facilities. In the late seventies, we were one of the first greenhouses in North America to install high intensity lights in our facility to improve product quality.
In the early eighties, we were one of the first facilities in North America to install computerized environmental control systems to monitor and regulate growing parameters in our facilities, such as temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, light levels, and length of day; this resulted in more efficient energy use.
Additionally in the eighties, we were one of the first facilities in North America to install a Dutch rolling palletized benching system. This system allows us to attain the highest level of material handling while maximizing work space usage and increasing work place efficiency in order to better meet demand for our products, even during our peak seasons. This rolling palletized benching system also allowed us to implement an adaptation of sub-irrigation and water recapturing technology. Instead of overhead watering, we water our crops by flooding them from below, keeping the plant foliage dry and allowing for easy water recapturing, which decreases water loss, saves fertilizer, and decreases chemical needs.