Wiwcharuk Family Greenhouse has seen many changes over the past 27 years and this year has been one of the most challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic. The greenhouse is located approximately a quarter mile west and three miles north of Endeavour.
The greenhouse will open to the public for its new season under strict guidelines on May 1.
"We will be taking appointments which will only allow seven to eight people at one time,” said Bev Wiwcharuk, owner. “We will also be roping off certain areas with avid gardeners only allowed to walk one way and staff will pick up the plants after the customers have completed their shopping. We will also have hand sanitizers out and a protective shield put up. All these protective measures are to ensure the safety of our staff and dedicated customers.
"We are now closer to our opening and are slowly getting a couple more employees in and we are maintaining social distancing with any employee. The extra staff will be helping to move plants between greenhouses and help in the transplanting," she said.
The three main greenhouses and one cold frame greenhouse have a combined space of 10,000 feet which allows for many new and traditional flowers and vegetable varieties.
"Every year I usually have 12 employees helping me in the greenhouse but with COVID-19 it has only been four family members this year," said Wiwcharuk.
Wiwcharuk's husband, Eli, son and daughter-in-law Shane and Sam Wiwcharuk and the couple’s four-year-old son Carsyn are family members who are helping in the greenhouse.
This year the greenhouse carries plenty of new pansies, tomatoes, petunias, calla lilies, strawflowers, trailing sunflowers, baby’s breaths, succulent plants and house plants. "There is no end to the many new items, " said Wiwcharuk.
The greenhouses are heated with seven oil furnaces that have a security alarm that notifies Wiwcharuk in her house if they fail. She has generators for backup to ensure plants do not get destroyed.
The greenhouse has a huge variety of peppers, strawberries, onions, lettuce and asparagus. They also have a variety of vegetables planted in pots that includes cucumbers, kale, peas and other assorted vegetables. Wiwcharuk has a large display of seeds, onion sets and seed potatoes.
She uses new potting soil each year and gets her soil from Winnipeg in large amounts. "I believe in only using fresh soil each year that enhances all my plants," Wiwcharuk said.
"There have been many changes through the years with the biggest in being an increase in freight. There has always been a change in plants as there is always something new coming out. The biggest hurdle has been learning how to properly water plants and mixing fertilizers. I have always tried to instill upon my customers that when they plant their flowers or vegetables to loosen the soil, not to make the mistake of shaking off all the dirt," she said.
Eli and Shane Wiwcharuk farm 1,000 acres together and also own a combined 150 Charolais crossed with Hereford cow/calf operation. They also have a mixture of a variety of birds from peacocks to turkeys. "The birds are usually a huge attraction at the farm but this year unfortunately they will be off limits to the public.," said Wiwcharuk.
Shane and Sam Wiwcharuk operate a trucking business off the farm with hauling pigs for Olymel and peat moss for Sunterra Horticulture.
“I want to encourage people to enjoy their yards and plant a garden. Even if you have never planted a garden before, this is the year to try one to become more self-efficient. Take pride in your yard. Plant flowers, make your yard beautiful. It has a very calming emotional effect,” she concluded.
The greenhouse is doing a Mother’s Day raffle and end of season draw. This year the greenhouse is doing a draw every Sunday, giving away a fuchsia plant for five weeks. To enter individuals must like and share the greenhouse’s Facebook online web page. The first winner was Brenda Croswell.