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Greenhouses, no matter what they produce, are a needed backbone of the national food industry – and an important part of any food supply chain.

From medicinal plants to fresh produce for sale at a regional or national level, greenhouses are a needed component of commerce and retail throughout the entire country. And, just like any other business, the operation of greenhouses has been hugely impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Largely speaking, greenhouses faced two primary challenges during the days of COVID-19: keeping their employees safe AND keeping their goods safe.

Even if the science is largely undecided on if food products can transmit, or otherwise be affected by, the coronavirus, the very act of growing and handling food was impacted by the restrictions imposed during the pandemic. The need to keep workers safe and distanced affected their ability to tend to the plants, trim them properly, and assist in their growth & handling.

Even now, as vaccines become available and workplaces start to get back to normal, greenhouses will need to continue their focus on employee and product safety, and it may be difficult to know how to navigate this landscape.

 

Greenhouse Safety For After COVID-19

One of the most important areas to focus on when keeping your greenhouse safe is to understand all current regulations and requirements. Greenhousing, both for indoor agriculture, dispensary usage, or food production, is already an industry rife with various safety protocols to protect customers, workers, and products from infection, but this goes double during the pandemic era. Make sure to carefully review the seemingly ever-changing requirements of your local government to make sure all standards are being met and adhered to.

Even after your staff is vaccinated, you will want to continue current safety protocols. The COVID-19 virus has been a tough one for researchers to understand, and in an industry as sensitive as greenhousing is, you’ll want to continue your current safety restrictions to help provide additional protection against diseases. Keep your employees as distanced as possible, continue reducing overall staffing levels on the floor to avoid crowding or overpopulation, and make sure all of the greenhouse storage shelving you use is able to resist cross contamination or germs.

 

Speaking of your storage, you’ll want to continue washing all high-touch surfaces. Even if your overall employee limits are in place, there’s still plenty of areas where work needs to be done, and many of the same surfaces will be touched by multiple workers. In the case of things like food storage shelving and germ resistant wire shelving, make sure to set a regular cleaning schedule to wipe away anything that might’ve come in contact with your goods or equipment.

For many greenhouses, long-term storage became key during the peak of the pandemic – as many greenhouses were forced to close or operate with skeleton crews, taking steps to ensure the long-term health of many crops became a priority until they had the team and resources available to tend to (and sell) their plants again. Be prepared to find long term solutions for many of your plants, including stricter temperature controls, moving certain plants outside (when safe), and trimming plants earlier than usual to try and control re-flowering until your team can work on them safely again.

By following these tips, your greenhouse should be able to stay successful – and, more importantly, healthy.

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