Five considerations when deciding which greenhouse to invest in for yourself:
1. Cost: start with $/sqft but make sure you are comparing apples to apples here. What benefit does the cost bring you? Pleasure in producing your own food, improving your food access and food security, growing varietals that meet your specific preferences, increasing the variety of replacing to home grown food, mental health, nutrition, physical health and activity. These are all important contributions to our long term quality of life.
When it comes down to dollar comparisons, some greenhouses are sturdy, some are flimsy. Some are made of material that will last for a decade or two and some are going to rust or become brittle after being exposed to the weather and temperature extremes we get in the Canadian Prairies.
2. Quality: Each greenhouse will vary in quality depending on how it was built and the materials used. You’ll find great differences in the sturdiness of the construction material, design, supply and simplicity of installation. Aluminum, wood, plastic, steel. Each has their pros and cons with regards to ease of use as a homeowner, resistance to humidity, costs, durability, weight, ability to carry snow, wind and crop load, and the size of shadow the frame will cast. Coverings can be glass (expensive, lots of light, fragile to hail, rocks, tree limbs in a wind storm, heavy, long lasting), film poly (easy to install, inexpensive, diffuses light, easily supported by light frame, will break down in UV and temperature extremes so will need to be replaced every 2 or 3 years), rigid polycarbonate (light, needs some power tools for installation, good light penetration, last many years, hail resistant, susceptible to scratching, middle of the road on cost, some varieties provide reasonable energy efficiency – especially the twin wall that have a few millimetres of space between the layers)
3. Availability: Look at local suppliers. What is available to you? Can you easily get help with parts and repairs or do you have to buy new components each time you need to fix something?
4. Customer Service: If you do encounter a problem at some point, how easy is it to contact your supplier and get the help you need?
5. Local Economy: Last but not least, in this remarkable time of a global travel shut down and health pandemic, consider how your purchase can support a local family business and support long-term strength in our community’s economy. Companies – like ours – have relationships with other local businesses. We all support each other. Business studies consistently show that every dollar spent at a local business leads to four times the amount of jobs, income, wealth, tax and charitable support compared with money spent at international or chain firms. (As reported here, here and here). We are proud to be providing a high-quality product that other Albertans can depend on.