Nov 3, 2008
Kerry’s Nursery and Twyford International Attain VeriFlora CertificationSource: Scientific Certification Systems

Kerry’s Nursery of Homestead, a leading orchid and bromeliad producer, and Twyford International, one of the largest plant tissue labs in the world, have achieved VeriFlora certification, the sustainability benchmark for potted plants and cut flowers sold in North America.

Five million orchids and two million bromeliads are in inventory at Kerry’s and shipped to retailers, wholesalers and their customers, who can now carry the VeriFlora Certified Sustainably Grown label.

Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), which provides third-party certification for sustainable achievements, developed and administers the VeriFlora certification program, and awarded the certification to Kerry’s. The VeriFlora standard against which Kerry’s and Twyford were audited establishes performance criteria in environmental sustainability, social responsibility and product quality, with each category firmly grounded in economic viability.

Kerry Herndon, president of Kerry’s Nursery in Homestead, Fla., is steadfast in his commitment to sustainability: “Sustainability is the greatest issue of our time,” Herndon said. “It is both possible and necessary to grow products in ways that allow us to leave the planet in as good or better shape than we found it.”

Environmental sustainability practices permeate all aspects of production and handling at Kerry’s. For example, a closed-loop drench line ensures that no agrochemicals contact the nursery floor. Runoff is captured and pumped back into a master tank where it is reused. Once plants are sent to the shipping area, work benches are transported via a rail system to a robotic washing facility where they are disinfected.

Rainwater from the greenhouse roofs, a precious resource to any grower, is collected and stored for irrigation, to the tune of 1-half million gallons of storage capacity allowing for capture and use of millions of gallons per year without pulling from the underground aquifer in the Homestead operation. To reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, Kerry’s uses off-peak power for daytime cooling in the Florida heat.

At the Twyford International tissue lab in Apopka, a center of breakthrough research in new and improved plant varieties, brand new micro-boilers deliver heat under the benches to keep roots warm while also reducing gas requirements.

A long-time practitioner of sustainability, Kerry believes it is important to subject one’s operation to third-party auditing. “Anyone can say they are green,” he said, “but it’s quite different to be willing to be scrutinized by recognized outside experts with the goal of identifying shortfalls and areas of improvement.”

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