Local company to export plants from island

Everton McLean
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Horticulture

It took nearly 100 years, but a Newfoundland company has finally been allowed to export plants off the island.

Murray's Horticultural Services of Portugal Cove has shipped its first crop of 20,000 Starbright Mockorange shrubs, developed by Memorial University's Botanical Garden, to wholesale markets in mainland Canada and the United States.

Michael Murray, owner of Murray's Horticultural Services in Portugal Cove, displays a crate of Starbright Mockorange shrubs at the company's greenhouses Thursday afternoon. Murray's company, which he founded some 35 years ago, recently exported some of it

It took nearly 100 years, but a Newfoundland company has finally been allowed to export plants off the island.

Murray's Horticultural Services of Portugal Cove has shipped its first crop of 20,000 Starbright Mockorange shrubs, developed by Memorial University's Botanical Garden, to wholesale markets in mainland Canada and the United States.

"It's a dream going back to when I first started my business 35 years ago," said Michael Murray, president of the horticulture company.

"When it first started, I was buying plant materials from around the world. I always thought, 'Gee, would it be nice if they could pay an invoice to me for a change?'"

Ever since the passing of the Canadian Destructive Insect and Plant Act of 1910, plants and soil from the island have not been allowed to be brought into Canada due to the presence of potato wart as well as nematode.

"You cannot leave here in a car or any kind of transportation if you're carrying any kind of plant with soil," said Murray.

That restriction applies to all plant and soil not meeting specific quarantine standards.

However, recently, Murray's business developed a quarantined area that meets guidelines allowing them to ship products out.

The facilities include a 1,200 square-foot propagation building and 4,600 square feet of greenhouse space, all under strict quarantine and sanitation protocols.

Murray said his company is the first in the province to meet the qualifications for shipping out plants.

The facility required an investment of about $1 million, but Murray said he expects he'll be able to recoup the costs. He said he's already been able to arrange markets for his product.

Murray's facilities are able to produce 84,000 plugs per cycle and is poised to bring more Botanical Garden plants and other varieties to market soon. The project was supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assis-tance Program, the Agricultural Policy Framework and other government agencies.

emclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Botanical Garden, Horticultural Services of Portugal Cove, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency National Research Council

Geographic location: Canada, Newfoundland, United States

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Recent comments

  • Ev
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    What a farce this quarantine is anyway. PEI found canker in their soil, they also have a nematode that is bad for potatoes, but they are not quarantined. Just Newfoundland, why? Because the mainland wants to keep the best tasting vegetables in the world out of the mainland market.

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Congratulations to Murray's Horticultural. This is really a good news story.

  • Ev
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    What a farce this quarantine is anyway. PEI found canker in their soil, they also have a nematode that is bad for potatoes, but they are not quarantined. Just Newfoundland, why? Because the mainland wants to keep the best tasting vegetables in the world out of the mainland market.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Congratulations to Murray's Horticultural. This is really a good news story.