DEER LAKE A Corner Brook businessman hopes the stigma of an provincially-funded agriculture project in the 1980s will not deter the government from helping him set up a greenhouse in the Deer Lake area.
Clyde Simmons hopes to get approval to use about 100 acres of Crown land for a large greenhouse project to provide local grocery stores with vegetables that traditionally have a tough time being shipped here. He has been working on the project for the past three years, gaining investors and filling out the necessary forms to gain access to land between the Deer Lake Regional Airport and Junction Brook along the Trans-Canada Highway.
Simmons said he was surprised that the ill-fated Sprung greenhouse project is still in the minds of politicians in St. John’s when it comes to starting up similar projects.
“That’s still a major issue for them — it’s one of the biggest drawbacks I’m up against,” said Simmons. “That’s why I’ve done my homework and picked the part of the province with the most sunlight.”
The Sprung greenhouses came to Mount Pearl in 1987 when then-Premier Brian Peckford struck a deal with the Calgary company to build hydroponic greenhouses in the area to grow cucumbers. The initiative went into receivership two years later.
“Putting a greenhouse in Mount Pearl, that’s probably one of the worst environments in North America for growing anything,” said Simmons.
He said hydroponic methods will take up a small portion of the project, but far from the extent of the east coast project. There will be more diversification of product as well, growing not just cucumbers, but lettuce, peppers and tomatoes.
When the project is up and running, Simmons said it should employ between 40-50 workers. He expects to hear about land permission in the next few weeks and he hopes to have the project started by next year.