Southwest Michigan greenhouse bus tour offered at 2014 Greenhouse Growers Expo

A bus tour on Dec. 11, 2014, will visit retail, wholesale and propagation greenhouse operations and a leading supplier of growing media.

Michigan State University Extension is offering a bus tour at the 2014 Greenhouse Growers Expo. It will be held Dec. 11, 2014, from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., after the two-day tradeshow and educational programing (Dec. 9-10). Consider joining other growers on this tour to see retail, wholesale and propagation operations that grow high quality plants for the market place. The tour will also include a visit to a leading supplier of growing media. Heidi Wollaeger with MSU Extension will be the tour leader.

The tour stops and highlights of each facility are described below. The $79 registration fee is required to cover transportation and lunch expenses. This tour may be canceled if fewer than 15 participants register in advance, so register now! Space is limited to the first 40 registrations.

Tentative schedule

7:30 a.m. – Tour bus arrives at the Lyon Street entrance of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan

7:45 a.m.  – Begin boarding bus at the Lyon Street entrance around this time

8 a.m. – Tour bus departs (promptly!)

Greenhouse plants9:15 a.m. – Visit Great Lakes Greenhouses in Kalamazoo, Michigan

  • Having been in business for 33 years, Great Lakes Greenhouses built their current facility in 2008.
  • Contract grower that produces for a local distributor that services big box chains in the Midwest.
  • Product line consists of spring annuals in containers, hanging baskets, packs and fall mums.
  • Six acres under cover, double poly, gutter vented greenhouse range.
  • Facility has radiant heat floors, utilizes irrigation booms, carousel style hanging basket systems, environmental controls and shade curtain systems.
  • Environmentally certified by the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).

Wedels Greenhouse10:30 a.m. – Visit Wedel's Garden Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan

  • Beginning in 1946 as a fruit stand, today it is a full service garden center, nursery, florist and café.
  • During the spring, Wedel's carries over 700 varieties of perennials and over 100 varieties of trees, shrubs and evergreens.
  • Nine acre retail lot of pre-dug and potted nursery stock and three water features nestled in the display gardens.
  • Specializes in fresh, handmade Christmas wreaths, trees and Christmas décor.
  • Offers classes on popular topics such as fairy gardens and seasonal events such as Spring Garden Expo or the Petting Zoo.
  • Currently employs over 100 people in the spring and 40 permanently.

11:30 a.m. – Lunch at Wedel's (provided)

Greenhouse12:30 p.m. – Tour Wenke Greenhouse in Kalamazoo, Michigan

  • Two growing locations in Kalamazoo, Michigan and one retail location for a total of over 30 acres of production.
  • One growing location in Douglas, Georgia with over 20 acres of production.
  • Sells finished product to independent garden centers, landscapers and Kalamazoo Flower Group.
  • Sells prefinished or young plants to other greenhouse growers.
  • Greenhouse with 10 acres of high intensity lighting.
  • Produces mostly annual bedding plants for spring, summer and fall.
  • We will visit their main growing facility where plugs and liners will be in production.

Suremix1:45 p.m. – Tour Michigan Grower Products

  • Originated by Kalamazoo, Michigan-area growers in 1980, Grower Products was intended to supply their container filling operations co-operatively, but now supplies other growers in eight states with their media mixes.
  • Have over 30 years of service for growers, by growers.
  • Includes a line of 15 SUREMIX professional growing media and SURECLONE custom blending operations.
  • Offers media mixes that can include peat, coir or rice hulls, pre-charged with fertilizers, fungicides or insecticides.

4:15 p.m. – Return to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel 

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