MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY — So far, the lockdown imposed by the Alberta government as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t really affected a greenhouse operation west of Olds.
The business, Lohr-A-Lee Greenhouses (2016) Inc., is located about six miles west of Olds off Rge. Rd. 30.
Wayne Lohr, the company’s president and CEO, says there are several reasons why their business hasn’t been affected.
For one thing, they shut down for about three months of the year each year anyway. They start up in about mid March and shut down around Nov. 1.
The cold winter months aren’t exactly prime growing months.
“Even to try to produce a crop, I mean, you don’t have the light, even if you tried to heat it,” Lohr said in an interview.
So they were already "locked down" as usual.
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“I make jokes about it,” Lohr said. “Self isolation’s nothing new. We do it every year for three months.
“We don’t go out much. I mean, we put in some hellish hours around here; it’s just who we are. We go out as little as possible even at the best of times.”
Lohr said the business is also classified as an agricultural operation, so they’ve been able to carry on.
No staff have been laid off either because there’s no staff per se; it’s a family business, operated by Lohr, his wife, and two to three in-laws. Two members of the family are professional horticulturists.
“I mean basically as long as we abide by the rules and regulations as laid down by Alberta Health, we’re good,” he said.
Lohr said another advantage is that the company built another huge new 8,640 square foot greenhouse for this season. It’s now the company’s main retail facility.
“It is large, spacious and very open which makes for lots of room for social distancing,” Lohr wrote in a Facebook post.
“There are wide aisles between the benches which makes for more than two metres of separation between aisles.”
That new facility also brings the total amount of greenhouse space on site to 17,500 square feet.
In his Facebook post, Lohr also also said because customers are buying directly from the producer, “all the steps and people who have touched your product in the retail system are eliminated.”
“Basically everything we sell we grow. That’s kind of one of our lines there: if we sell it, we grew it. We don’t bring in things. We don’t sell hardware or anything,” he said.
Lohr-A-Lee Greenhouses (2016) Inc. is now in its sixth year in its Olds-area location. For about 20 years, Lohr-A-Lee Greenhouses was located near Stettler. The family took a few years off before moving to their current location.
The company supports many charitable groups, including the Rotary Club of Olds, Olds Hospital and Care Centre, as well as school and daycare fundraisers.