Laila Benkrima, PhD, provides consulting and research services to various horticulture and biotechnology projects. Laila has over 25 years of experience in both horticulture and pharmaceutical research and is currently working as a Horticulture Consultant for the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). Her work history includes the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals Inc., the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and Laval University. She received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology and her Master Degree in Plant Physiology from the University of Paris, France. Since 2014, she has been involved in an innovative project that combines the vocational rehabilitation program in horticulture with technological innovation at the John Volken Academy (JVA), a long-term residential drug and alcohol treatment center for young men and women aged located in Newton Town Centre, Surrey BC. The Affinor towers technology is brought through a collaborative research project between the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) and JVA.
Deborah Henderson has been the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture (ISH) since 2005 and LEEF Regional Innovation Chair since 2009 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She received her PhD from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1982, and established E.S. Cropconsult Ltd. in 1989 to offer IPM and research services to both conventional and organic agriculture in the Fraser Valley. Deborah developed an active research program in biological and non-chemical management strategies for pests and diseases to advance agriculture and landscapes towards ecologically sound alternatives. Her research at ISH develops microbial biocontrols and environmentally sound bioproducts in partnership with agricultural industry partners. Her goal is to put more biocontrol option in the hands of growers. The Institute has both research capacity and production capacity for beneficial fungi and insect viruses and over the next few years, is developing this capacity to become an incubator for new biopesticides.
Brian Spencer is the president and owner of Applied Bio-nomics Ltd. Founded in 1980 in Victoria, BC, the biological pest control supplier was one of the first companies to bring now familiar products to growers, including Stratiolaelaps scimitus (Hypoaspis miles), Stethorus punctillum, Delphastus catalinae, Amblyseius fallacis, Gaeolaelaps gillespiei and Micromus variegatus, to name a few. Brian holds a BSc. in microbiology from the University of British Columbia.
Ted Deli comes from an ag family. His parents met in Guelph and he grew up on a research farm in Iowa. Although he studied anthropology at Wesleyan University, his passion has always been with plants. Ted worked for Sony Music living in New York and San Francisco before returning to his roots and opening a garden supply store in Portland, Oregon. There, they specialized in organic gardening, commercial-scale hydroponics, and cannabis cultivation. After selling his store, he returned to Canada to work for Hydrofarm, a manufacturer and distributor of greenhouse and controlled environment cultivation equipment with a specialty in HID and LED lighting. His focuses on commercial and international sales for producers of both conventional and cannabis crops and has a passion for greenhouse and indoor horticultural lighting, particularly LEDs.
Michael Brownbridge, PhD, has over 30 years of industry experience in production systems, biological control and integrated pest management – with an extensive research history. He previously held positions at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Canada), AgResearch Ltd. (New Zealand), and the University of Vermont among others. Michael joined BioWorks in December 2019, as the Biological Program Manager – Disease Control. In this position, he is responsible for accelerating the adoption of current and new biological products while providing expert advice and guidance to customers and partners.
Melhem Sawaya has been in the greenhouse business for 41 years. Working with growers throughout southwestern Ontario, Mel was a grower himself before starting Focus Greenhouse Management 31 years ago. A known supporter and vocal advocate of the horticultural industry, Mel is also involved in a number of industry initiatives, such as programming for the Canadian Greenhouse Conference and Grower Day, as well as regularly contributing to Greenhouse Canada magazine. He’s also coordinated the annual Sawaya Garden Trials in Simcoe, Ont. for the past 19 years. What first began with 150 varieties, the trials now showcase over 3000, allowing growers to see how new varieties perform in the southwestern Ontario climate.
Jingjing Han, PhD, is a research engineer with years of experience in greenhouse environment control and evaluation of greenhouse technologies for energy conservation, holding a M.Sc. in Agricultural Bio-environment and Energy Engineering and a PhD in Agriculture and Bioresource Engineering. In the past two and a half years, Jingjing has been working with both Dr. Jeanine West, an Environmental Specialist, and Dr. Ann Huber from the Soil Resource Group on a greenhouse dehumidification project funded by the Ontario government. Her areas of expertise include greenhouse environment control, greenhouse dehumidification, greenhouse gas reduction, monitoring and evaluating greenhouse technologies for energy savings.
Graeme completed his undergraduate degree in biological sciences and his master’s in agricultural science in Melbourne, Australia. He worked for eight years with the Victorian State Government in Australia, initially as an entomologist with the Department of Agriculture, and for two years as a research scientist with the Department of Natural Resources. In 1988, he moved to Canada and from then until the end of 2014, he worked as the Greenhouse Floriculture IPM Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
Ann Huber, PhD, has national and international research experience with government, university, and industry. Her areas of expertise include environmental microbiology, horticulture process water management, agricultural nutrient and pathogen management practices for environmental protection, greenhouse gas reduction and food safety, as well as monitoring and remediation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Ann is the lead researcher on several projects that focus on water treatment best management practices for greenhouses and nurseries in Ontario, in-house tracking of microbial water quality in the horticulture industry, and the use of reclaimed water for irrigation on sod. She has also collaborated on projects demonstrating energy-savings through dehumidification in Ontario greenhouses, minimizing horticultural impacts on surface water quality through enhanced pond management, and greenhouse nutrient feedwater use.
It’s no secret that prices were already rising – that includes plants, inputs and labour – everything but the grower’s margins. This panel discussion will explore how COVID impacted the industry and what solutions can be taken as an industry moving forward.