The Twentieth Century Club of Garrettsville met on Thursday, November 15 on the premises of the Eagle Creek Growers on Asbury Rd. for an interesting and informative introduction to the holiday season and some of the people who provide some of its traditional trappings.
Eagle Creek opened at its present location in 1999 with about 1A. under glass; currently , this has expanded to approximately 4A., with more outside. This is a wholesale operation, serving smaller grocery chains and neighborhood businesses who offer plants and flowers to their customers in northeast Ohio, Pennsylvania and, occasionally, Michigan and Indiana–Heinen’s, Whole Foods and Mustard Seed Market, for example. The focus right now is, of course, poinsettias, which were started back in July and August. Some sixty thousand potsful, of all sizes, in several color variations (not to mention glitter) are growing their little hearts…or petals…or petioles…or whatever…out, watered from the bottom, shone on by the sun, rotated and watched over by the full-time staff and the seasonal helpers who aim to deliver the very best to their clientele.
The ladies of the 20th Century Club got to see the bales of peat moss–a growth medium– standing ready to go into the grow-pots, the thirty thousand gal. water tanks–much of it recycled, the rolling carts of plants awaiting shipment, the overhead trolleys that carry plants on their rotation around the facility for even distribution of light. Out in the dark there was a wind turbine, installed in 2009, which has had an effect on power consumption from the grid. The power is used to facilitate the automation of the whole operation which allows a relatively small number of people to produce rows and rows and rows and…you get the idea, of flowers. Right now, the poinsettias rule but there are bulbs and seeds and cuttings just waiting in the wings for the Easter rush and beyond, when lilies, fuchsias, primroses, ferns, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas and who knows how many other blooms will take pride of place.
Sustainability looms large in the function of Eagle Creek. Besides the wind turbine, there is a biomass boiler which can consume all sorts of material–sawdust and manure, for example, along with natural gas, to maintain the various temperature zones needed for different plants and different stages of plant growth. Water issues are closely monitored, in terms of supply, sanitation & prevention and application. Pests are always a threat but control measures are in place to manage any out break.
Guide for this fascinating expedition was Jill Cain, a third generation grower with a business degree, a green thumb, and years of participation in the family business, learning “from the ground up”, as it were. She explained her answers to various questions from personal knowledge–about the number of different kinds of poinsettias (10), about how the length of days influences the color changes, about the OSU new-variety-trials held in Medina for growers to expand their offerings; she knows her bloomin’ business.
The evening finished off with a business meeting and refreshments in the Garrettsville Dairy Queen; fruit smoothies and hot fudge bloomed!