A Passion for Growing Herbs Year Round

by Lucie Roy

Ted Popma from West Country Herbs & Morinville Greenhouse was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Morinville Breakfast meeting held Wednesday at the MCCC.

For the last few years the Greenhouse has embarked on the niche of growing herbs. Popma said they have been growing herbs for 12 years but more seriously in the last 3 or 4 years.

Simonne Chevalier said she was shopping at the Italian Centre a few weeks ago and picked up a package of basil and saw the label was from the Morinville Greenhouse.

She was interested to know more and driving 5 kilometres North on the old Highway 2 she could see the blue light coming out from the greenhouse, almost futuristic looking.

The company said they were delighted to attend a Rotary meeting and speak of their operation.

In his half-hour presentation, Popma covered a short history of the Greenhouse, Herbs and Greens Production, the floating hydroponics and the blue and red lights seen from a distance.

Popma also explained the four stages to grow the product, from seedling to germination, growth and harvest.

Popma said the product they produce is mainly Basil but they also grow quite a bit of Arugula, Kale and Cilantro, spinach and greens including Swiss chard, lettuce and others.

The Herbs and Greens Production is 100 per cent hydroponics with a high-quality end product, fresh cut distribution, short cycle crops eliminating the need for pest control and greenhouse grown for maximum natural light.

Their products are sold in places like the Italian Centre, Mercato, Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market and they also ship to stores in Calgary.

Popma said they have room to expand.

In the priorities going forward, Popma said it is to maintain a high-quality desirable product and expand the product line.

He spoke of the recycling program and concentrating on automation and presented short videos on the automated seed dispensation station and the harvesting machine.

A Long History

Popma wanted a career change and began working for Greenhouse owners Jim and Elisha Marles and has been there for 20 years.

Popma said, Elisha, in her eighties, is still very active in the greenhouse operations and is still doing the bedding plant crop this year and incredible at it.

The business opened in 1975 and was primarily a bedding plant producer with some other initiatives including Poinsettias, field crops and Echinacea.

“Right now it has morphed quite a bit since we started,” said Popma.

Popma said they welcome on-site tours for groups and school classes.

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