Leaning Green

leaning green

Every decision we make at Van Wilgen’s, we ask ourselves, is it good for everyone involved? First and foremost is it better for our planet?

Plastic pot recycling program

Our plastic pot recycling program started over 15 years ago when it was not a common practice among nurseries. When Ryan lived in Oregon, he became inspired after seeing a facility that was taking used plastic pots and processing them to be recycled. Moved by the idea, Ryan brought recycling to Van Wilgen’s.

Cardboard, paper, metal, and plastic pots–everything possible is recycled–each having its own designated dumpster. Even plant material is turned into compost.

By recycling plastic pots, we were able to cut down the amount of trash going directly to the landfill, so much so, we were able to reduce our number of trash pickups by half. In year one we prevented two, forty-yard dumpsters of plastic pots from going to the landfill and last year we kept over 15 of these dumpsters from going to the landfill.

cleanliness is key

When it comes to pesticides, we aren’t into them. The best way to prevent the use of chemical controls is cleanliness. We keep the place neat, tidy, and free of weeds that attract those pesky insects and diseases. Our first choice is always to use an environmentally safe method or product to treat our plants. These methods can range from organically derived treatments to using beneficial insects to reduce harmful insects that feed on our plants. In the last several years we have found that nematodes, ladybugs, praying mantes, and parasitic wasps all play a part in reducing the populations of harmful insects in our growing range.

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geothermal heating & cooling system

In 2008–when our store was being renovated–we looked at a few options to make the construction process more environmentally friendly and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. After discussing several options, we finally decided to install a geothermal heating and cooling system. We quickly got to work constructing four 425-foot wells that harness thermal energy from inside the earth. The 6,000-square-foot addition to our existing retail location did not increase our heating fuel or electricity demand.

energy saving curtain systems

Many of our greenhouses are equipped with energy-saving curtain systems. These curtains are closed whenever the heat is running, which is mostly during the night. Greenhouses easily remain at temperature when there is only a little bit of sun, however, when it is cloudy or during the evening, greenhouses are not insulated well enough to hold heat in. Using these curtains adds additional insulation, and it also pushes the warm air further down to where the plants are. The most important temperature in a greenhouse is at bench height where the plants are, and these energy curtains close off the peaks of the greenhouse so there is much less air to have to heat. We have seen energy savings of over 40%.

Van Wilgen’s just recently converted the whole campus to cleaner-burning natural gas instead of oil. We researched the newest and most efficient heaters and upgraded every furnace to 93% efficiency or greater.


We utilize biodiesel! It’s amazing that it’s possible to use energy from plants! We use a B20 blend in all of our trucks. Look for our “Powered by Biodiesel” stickers on our delivery trucks and tractors.

For those of you who drive electric vehicles, simply plug in at our Electric Car Charging Station. We have a spot designated just for your electric vehicle right up front.