It’s been just over a week since the Valpo Parks horticulture crew moved into their new Clifford Property on Campbell Street and the group couldn’t be happier. As a space many of them worked to build, the group is not only proud of the new facilities, but excited to utilize the new space for growing the plants that bring color and beauty to Valparaiso.
Boasting updates from their previous property, including a 144’ by 29’ greenhouse, an area for seed germination, a propagation house for growing, and an office space, the update is a long time coming.
“Before this, we operated out of a much smaller greenhouse that was made years ago, it was dated and a little run down. Now we’ve built this new greenhouse and we mostly did it in house between the five of us,” Paul Chen, Lead Horticulturist said. “It’s a leap into a more progressive future. The city is going in a direction where it is expanding and it wants to put more value in the horticulture department, it’s a positive step.”
Looking over the rows of plants, it’s easy to see how the added space could be beneficial for the crew. As Steve Martinson, Horticulture Superintendent explained, the old greenhouses were built back in the 80s, and he couldn’t be happier to see some updates. Moving from dated structures that he helped build back in the 80’s, Valpo Parks can now brag about their greenhouse’s features, such as an irrigation system and controls to regulate the humidity and temperature.
“The germination room, for example, is a feature we didn’t have previously,” Martinson said. “Previously we had a stainless steel cart and outfitted it with lights and humidity to germinate seeds in that, so this is a huge step up for us.”
One of the many things Martinson is proud of is the propagation room, which sits in a vintage 1950’s greenhouse which was donated from Samuelson’s Nursery.
“This is one of the first buildings that Max Samuelson put up in 1950 something,” Martinson said. “We tore it down ourselves, numbered the parts, poured a new foundation for it, and put it up.”
The rest of the crew is definitely on board with the excitement over their new facilities. Taking care of the gardens and green spaces throughout Valparaiso is a passion for the group, and a new facility makes that much easier for them.
“It’s pretty amazing, it is such an upgrade,” Vaso Stojic, horticulturist for the South Side of the City said. “There’s a lot more space, everything is up to date compared to the old-school stuff we were doing before and it’s nice to have the freedom and resources to be creative.”
His coworker, April Anderson agreed, highlighting the hard work that the crew has put into the project.
“It’s been a long project and I’m glad we were able to complete it as a department,” Anderson said. “Having the new system and the greenhouse space will benefit us greatly. It’s nice to have a central hub of our own.”
As spring finally makes her appearance here in Valpo and we move into summer, the new facilities are sure to bring plenty of beauty to the area. To learn more about Valpo Parks and their projects, visit them here!