Dr. Howard Resh is a greenhouse expert, teacher, consultant, author and hydroponics pioneer and when he consults greenhouse growers all over the planet, he often directs them to purchase greenhouses made by Agra Tech, Inc. in Pittsburg, CA and one of the world’s leading commercial greenhouse manufacturers in the world.
Consulting greenhouse growers that either have issues with their greenhouses and want help resolving those issues; or they may want to get into the business—starting slowly and then jumping into with both feet, depending on their particular situation. I can help them in every aspect of greenhouse farming, including what they should grow and in what quantities; the type and size of the greenhouse; the hydroponic system they should use, which all depends on the crops they’re going to grow, as well as the location. Then, I can help them to determine all of the other components they may need, such as heating and cooling systems, etc. Once we get a layout for the greenhouse, designing all of the irrigation systems and hydroponic systems for it–that’s normally when the construction of the greenhouse can begin. Once the greenhouse is up, the training of the crops takes place, where we perform the nutrient formulations to ensure the healthy growth of the plants that they select to grow.
Yes, exactly. And the job doesn’t end after the greenhouse is operational. I have many customers that we work with throughout the year, to help them when they encounter issues or need to tap into our knowledge about this industry and how to succeed in it. In many cases, the nutrient solutions need to be changed once they get into growing their crops. We can direct them where to get them tested and analyzed, then we can re-adjust the nutrient formulation according to what the lab tells us based on their element levels. We may also have to assist them with pest management, depending on where they are. We advise greenhouse growers from all over the world, including Nigeria, Bermuda, Hawaii, Senegal, Mexico and throughout the U.S.
Yes, I start by showing them the main crops that they should consider, but then I tell them to go out and do their own market research. Go to the marketplace and find out what the volume is and what the prices are, then they can determine how much of each crop they want to grow. Once we’ve determined the crops and the volume, we’re able to select the type of greenhouse and the hydroponics that are required in order to achieve those numbers. The best way to go to market is for a greenhouse grower to grow local products and sell them through small, local outlets, instead of selling to the big wholesalers, because they won’t deal with the smaller growers, because they surely can’t compete price-wise. Farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scenarios are good matches for these small greenhouse growers, so I always advise my clients to find a small market niche and stick with it. I have clients who are engineers or own their own construction companies, IT companies, for example, and they’ve chosen not to be in those businesses anymore for whatever reasons. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and now eggplants have become a big thing; and then you’ve got your herbs and certain types of lettuces—so those are the main types of things that are ideal to grow in greenhouses.
No, because most people will need help from someone like me to set it up properly for one. If they choose the wrong structure or pick the incorrect growing system, they can encounter a wide range of problems that can cost them a lot of money and time. It’s very important to get if off the ground right from the beginning and that’s what I try to help them with. It’s also vital that they learn how to take proper care of the plants. Many new greenhouse growers run into nutrition problems down the road, because they don’t know the right formulations and they can’t figure out how their crops aren’t growing well. In other cases, they may buy the wrong greenhouse for their environment or pay too much for it, for example.
Agra Tech makes greenhouses that are very strong and well-constructed. We have an Agra Tech greenhouse here in Anguilla and we’ve had it for 15 years and it has survived 3-4 hurricanes and it’s still working. It’s performed very well under some tough weather conditions. The people at Agra Tech have some affordable solutions for growers of any sizes and I often direct my clients toward purchasing and using Agra Tech greenhouses.
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Jim Bergantz, our Agra Tech rep, played a huge role with this project and he couldn’t have been more agreeable. One of the best things about hiring Agra Tech is that you also get Ag-Con, which is great. They have done all of the construction for each phase and it has been amazing. Ray Pound and the job foreman, Jaime, are on top of everything and their problem-solving skills have been very helpful.
Bahne talked to three different companies before signing with Agra Tech, he said. “They came back with a plan that was flexible and they we’re really willing to work with us at a reasonable price. We met with them and they helped us adjust the design. What they came up with was very similar to our original design, but they made it much more practical. They thought about things that we didn’t think of and that was a big deal, to say the least!”