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Hollandia Nurseries Earns Grant For New Irrigation System



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BETHEL — Hollandia Nurseries, located at 103 Old Hawleyville Rd in Bethel, has an exciting 18 months ahead. The business will install a new irrigation system that will help automate the water process for hanging plants, thanks to a Connecticut Department of Agriculture Farm Transition Grant.

Owner Eugene Reelick said the effort will begin on June 15, when he can place an order for the equipment.

“It is a really special grant for us, because it is going to make our lives so much easier,” said Reelick in a recent phone interview.

The new equipment will do so much more too, like cut water use by an estimated 40%.

Hollandia Nurseries also has a Hollandia Gift & Garden center located at 95 Stony Hill Rd, Bethel. The grant is one of 33 awarded by the Connecticut Agriculture Farm Transition program.

Reelick shared that the new irrigation system will be installed in a greenhouse called 9 12. The greenhouse was created from five greenhouses and is named after those units, 9 to 12B. A ribbon cutting for the new greenhouse was held on May 9, and it was attended by several dozen people and local officials.

“It’s really going to help out with water efficiency and labor,” said Reelick.

The new system will monitor the hanging plant baskets within 9 12 for weight and it will water the plants accordingly. The weight directly identifies the amount of water within the basket. The measurements will also be adjusted while the plants grow to more accurately determine just how much water each plant needs.

This system, Reelick said, will allow Hollandia Nurseries & Farm staff to focus on customer service and completing other tasks such as transplanting. It will allow him to put his staff where he wants them, primarily helping customers.

And the plants will grow at an accelerated rate due to the automated process. Reelick estimates he will be able to have plants ready for retail about three weeks faster.

The 9 12 greenhouse is situated behind the perennial courtyard at the Nursery.

All of the hanging baskets are annual plants, like ivy geraniums, fuchsias, and custom baskets.

Reelick said Stephanie Curran, an office administrator for Hollandia Nurseries, was instrumental in the grant process. She found the grant, prepared for it, and was “on point” with everything.

“She really did a great job,” said Reelick.

The 9 12 greenhouse also includes other features that are not part of the grant funding. Reelick said it has water booms that water the material on the floor automatically.

“It’s a really automated house,” Reelick shared.

Even the vents in the roof open and close through differentials in temperature.

Reelick said it is “state of the art.”

“I’ll be able to do it from my iPhone,” said Reelick.

Reelick is most excited for conserving water, which will also mean less electricity used.

Hollandia Nurseries was awarded $20,000 for the project, according to Reelick. As shared in the Connecticut Weekly Agricultural Report from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, the 33 Farm Transition grants total $515,953 and focus on expanding, diversifying, and improving existing operations at the locations.

According to the report, Connecticut is home to more than 5,500 farms contributing more than $4 billion to the state’s economy.

“Now in our second grant cycle of offering the four Farm Transition Grant categories, we are encouraged by the response with a wider variety of projects seeking funding from a more diverse spectrum of Connecticut producers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt in the report. “We look forward to sharing success stories from each of these projects in the future to showcase the innovation and growth of agriculture in Connecticut and the positive impacts it has for our state’s economy, job growth, and food production.”

Hollandia Nurseries’s grant was in the Infrastructure Investment category of the grant.

“Funding through the Farm Transition Grant program is critical to support Connecticut’s agricultural producers as they innovate and implement new technologies to meet a growing consumer demand,” said Commissioner Hurlburt through an e-mail on May 24. “The Hollandia Nurseries award will enable them to install an irrigation system in five of their greenhouses to water individual hanging baskets through an automated system – significantly reducing their water usage and input costs while increasing efficiencies and production.”

And where five greenhouses — which offered customers a chance to walk into spaces with different crops — once stood at Hollandia Nurseries, a new greenhouse stands.

Reelick said it is “really inspiring” and “beautiful.”

“It’s going to be great,” he said, about the project ahead.

For more information about Hollandia Nurseries see its website hollandianurseries.com.

Education Editor Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at eliza@thebee.com.

Three generations of the Reelick family were on hand to cut the ribbon celebrating the official opening of Greenhouse 9 12 at the company’s Stony Hill Garden and Gift Shop on May 9. With Ryan Kelleheller from the Bethel Chamber of Commerce official holding the ribbon and Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker looking on, cutting the ribbon are, from left, brothers Hans, Jr, and Peter Reelick, company founders, Sally and Hans Reelick, and their son, Hollandia owner Eugene Reelick. —Bee Photo, Voket
Hollandia Nurseries in Stony Hill/Bethel, has gained a reputation as Connecticut’s premiere garden center, with hundreds of thousands of plants, first-class display gardens, and annual community events with over 20 acres dedicated to growing and selling plants and garden accessories. —photo courtesy Hollandia Nurseries
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