Being a part of the green industry we truly feel it is our responsibility to be at the forefront of the green initiative. 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?
One of the largest concerns in the greenhouse and nursery industry is the amount of plastic is used to produce our plants. Our plastic pot recycling program started almost 10 years ago when it was not a common practice. When Ryan lived in Oregon he saw a facility that was taking used plastic pots and processing them to be recycled. Van Wilgen’s was inspired! 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. Year one we prevented two 40 yard dumpsters of plastic pots from going to the landfill and last year we kept over 15 dumpsters full of plastic pots from going to the landfill.
Everyone wants to know about Pesticides! Scary word. It is always our first choice to use an organic or safe-for-the-environment control when it comes to treating disease or pests. We discuss how we avoid scary spraying schedules on our Van Wilgen Grown page. What about you? We do our best to make sure we offer you a traditional and an organic option when you need help controlling a disease or pest. There are a lot of traditional options that can be safe for the environment, we advise you on the best practices to make sure we do not harm Mother Nature. Did you know that we even carry good bugs to help kill bad bugs? That’s right, nematodes, ladybugs, and praying mantis are all insects that help control “bad” bug populations. We even buy beneficial insects on a commercial level to use in our growing greenhouses.
In 2008 when our store was being renovated, we looked at a few options to make it a green project. We finally decided on a geothermal heating and cooling system. The 6,000 square feet addition to the existing building did not increase our heating fuel or electricity demand. Right out the back door are four 425-foot wells that use the earth’s core temperature to help heat and cool our building.
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, but when it is cloudy or during the evening, greenhouses are not insulated well to hold heat in. By using these curtains, it adds additional insulation and it also pushed the warm air further down. The most important temperature in a greenhouse is at bench height where the plants are. Energy Curtains close off the peaks of the greenhouse so there is much less air to heat. We see an 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% efficient or better. Van Wilgen’s is also the first greenhouse in the country to experiment with a 100% outside air direct fired unit heaters. We decided to experiment because of its potential benefits from pressurizing the greenhouse so there is less infiltration from small gaps in the plastic which saves energy. The way air is pushed into the greenhouse, it de-stratifies the air making a more even heat. Direct fire releases CO2 into the greenhouse which is needed by plants in the photosynthesis process. Lastly, the relative humidity is lower with these heaters which is great for the plants. Every little thing matters.
We run on BIODIESEL! It’s amazing that it’s possible to use energy from plants! We use a B20 blend in all of all of our trucks and equipment. Look for our Powered by Biodiesel stickers on our delivery trucks and our equipment.
Need a charge? Plug-in at our Electric Car Charging Station we have a spot designated just for your electric vehicle right upfront. They call our model of charger “the big kahuna”. This level 2 station can charge a Tesla Model S to a Chevy Volt with the fastest charging times and highest power rating available. We teamed up with our birdseed supplier, Sun Country Farms, who is a part of a huge green initiative to connect electric cars from coast to coast. They are a sustainable birdseed company that has the best bird seed we have ever seen. Check out their initiative at www.suncountryhighway.com
We’ve added more planting beds into our parking lot recently which in itself is a good thing for the environment. More importantly, did you noticed we did not put curbs around these islands? Storm drain runoff is something we should be working to control. We installed permeable pavers around the border of our islands so that less water would flow into our storm drains. We are very proud, check it out!