About Doef's Greenhouses
We presently operate a “state of the art” 11 acre greenhouse about 6 miles west and 3 ½ miles north of Lacombe – on the south east side of Gull Lake. Our experienced structures are covered with a double layer of poly while the new structure is covered with state of the art diffused glass. The greenhouse is heated with natural gas burning hot water boilers. The flue gas from our boiler stacks (pure CO2) is pumped back into our crops on demand when our CO2 levels get too low. Our plants love CO2! Efforts are always being made to conserve energy because of the high energy input costs. Shade or Energy curtains are installed that can be automatically pulled over the crop in the evenings and on very cold, cloudy winter days to conserve heat. 9 of our 11 acres are using HPS lighting which give us an advantage to grow fresh, local produce in the middle of our cold Alberta winters!
Spring run-off water is collected in a reservoir on the property, and rain water is also diverted into the same reservoir and used to irrigate the vegetable plants in the greenhouse. Water-soluble fertilizer is added to the water and fed to the plants through individual dripper lines. The excess irrigation water is collected, pasteurized and re-circulated again, to conserve water and fertilizer. Weekly water samples are taken to monitor fertilizer levels, as well as to monitor levels of bacteria that may have entered the system.
We use “Integrated Pest Management (IPM)” to minimize the use of pesticides in the greenhouse. This means that we make use of “biological pest controls” to eliminate the pests in the greenhouse – controls such as introducing predators to feed on the pests. In exceptional cases, some spot spraying may be done in high infestations with “applicator-friendly” solutions. We employ about 35 full-time employees and approximately 8-10 part-time employees.
Our vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness – the tomatoes are ripened on the vine and picked twice a week, the peppers are picked at about 90% ripeness, also twice a week, and the cucumbers are picked every day since they grow more quickly. From picking, they are packed and shipped within a couple of hours, or packed and kept in a cooler until market time, the next day. Most of our vegetables are marketed at local stores and wholesales, while about 15% of our product is marketed at local farmers markets.