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Greenhouses will 'do whatever it takes' to open their doors by May 1

The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council sent an action plan to the governor, offering safety and health precautions.

ALLENDALE, Mich. — As time goes by, greenhouses and garden centers lose necessary time to sell their product. Their doors are shut, due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order calling for all non-essential businesses to be closed. Now the owners say they will do whatever it takes to open back up by May 1.

The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council sent a letter to the governor, detailing how these businesses could reopen in a safe way.

For Countryside Greenhouse in Allendale, that means changing how they operate once they can reopen.

“We realize it’s very important we provide our customers with as safe of an environment as possible,” said Dale Buist, the owner of Countryside Greenhouse. “And it’s for our benefit too.”

RELATED: Greenhouse fears they may miss their season due to 'stay in place' order

Buist said their greenhouse allows if there were an easement in restrictions, he will implement a number of health and safety measures.

“We will follow the same safety protocol Meijer or Walmart are following, as far as people per square foot,” said Buist. “Our aisles are seven feet wide. Our benches are seven feet wide. So, that social distancing of six feet is pretty easy to do.”

Credit: 13 OYS
Countryside Greenhouse makes changes to register for health and safety measures.

Buist said employees would have their temperature taken, wear masks, and stand behind plexi glass shields he already had installed at the registers. Their usual sale of concessions will also be canceled to deter additional traffic.

Also, their greenhouse is built for ventilation. The open-air building has roof vents that open up for air exchange.

Buist said 70 percent of their sales are in May. Missing this crucial month in the year could be “detrimental” to their business, as well as others around the state.

“I hope we start to see an improvement,” said Buist. “The case count comes down, the death count comes down and we can get back to normal. I think we’re all paying a price.”

The greenhouse was set to open March 30. It’s now been since last September that the greenhouse has made a sale. Their entire year’s work goes into growing the product they sell during Spring and Summer.

It’s now less about making profit, and just about seeing if they can make it to the next year.

Credit: 13 OYS
Rows of plants sit ready to sell.

“I think we all started to accept our new normal,” said Buist, “That wasn’t easy in the beginning or yet today. We’ve accepted this is here, so now how do we live with it and deal with it?

RELATED: Landscapers could miss their window of profit, as stay at home order continues

The plants in the greenhouse are in a holding pattern. They’ve lost some crops, however. The goal is to slow the growth by limiting nutrients, water and warmth, so they can be revived and thriving by the time they are allowed to sell.

“We hope to open May 1,” said Buist. “But if not, we will simply trust our government does have a lot more information than I have.”

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