Metrolina Greenhouses, Inc. has been awarded VeriFlora certification for their achievements in the horticulture industry. Metrolina is a family-owned wholesale plant company, started in 1972 by Tom Van Wingerden. The business is now run by second-generation family members and has grown into a thriving greenhouse business, doing more than $100 million in annual sales.
“VeriFlora provides a way for companies such as ours to get credit for the things we have been doing,” said Abe Van Wingerden, president and marketing director for Metrolina. “At the same time, the certification process helped us identify new ways we could further improve our operations.”
VeriFlora certification is awarded to companies that are independently audited against a specific set of requirements involving environmental sustainability, social responsibility and product quality. “Metrolina has demonstrated true leadership in all of these areas,” said Dr. Michael Keyes, certification manager for Sustainable Agriculture at Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), the administrator for the VeriFlora program.
Metrolina operates in a region of North Carolina notorious for seasonal droughts. Being prudent of their water use, they recycle nearly all of their water and use a subirrigation system that captures and recycles excess water. Among other sustainable innovations, Metrolina uses “energy curtains” that reduce heat loss by up to 50 percent.
Along with environmental sustainability, Metrolina prioritizes employee appreciation. They offer competitive wages and make internal promotions. This year, they moved about 60 temporary workers to new full-time positions. They also have an internship program, training 15 to 20 students from around the world to be assistant growers.