Greenhouse Canada has named Dusty Zamecnik of EZ Grow Farms of Norfolk County among the Top 4 under 40.
“A passion for plants, a need to succeed and a drive to elevate the horticultural industry – those were all commonalities among the winners of Greenhouse Canada’s Top 4 Under 40 awards this year. These bright young stars are a testament to the continued success of the greenhouse sector.”
“My love of plants and unlocking their potential, paired with a passion for business, has always been in my blood,” says Dusty Zamecnik, co-owner and production manager of EZ Grow Farms. He is also Chair of Norfolk County’s Agriculture Advisory Board.
While the family operation has been propagating strawberries for well over 20 years, he explains, it was through his involvement with various agricultural associations that he came to understand the emerging greenhouse berry industry.
Described as a horticultural innovator, entrepreneur and passionate advocate for Canadian growers, Zamecnik was one of the first to assess the need for properly grown strawberry plant material for the young greenhouse strawberry market, says Shawn Mallen, manager of hydroponics and manufacturing at A.M.A. Horticulture. Travelling back and forth from Europe to research innovative techniques, Zamecnik introduced the first commercial suspension propagation system to North America.
Pairing this European propagation technique with a Cravo retractable-roof greenhouse from a Canadian manufacturer in Brantford, Ont., EZ Grow Farms has become a key source of young strawberry plants in North America. Initially starting with a trial order of 40,000 plants in 2016, they now grow over 1,200,000 plants for greenhouse growers, with more acreage coming online annually, says Mallen.
Crediting their success to the team at EZ Grow, as well as key suppliers and financers, Zamecnik says he is motivated by working with like-minded individuals who “embrace the unknown, pioneer the future and take that leap of faith.”
Known to share his knowledge with with colleagues on strawberry production, he also uses social media to dispel myths and stereotypes around modern farming practices, including pesticide use, sustainability and automation, says Mallen.
Zamecnik has volunteered with a number of industry organizations, including his roles as a board member of the Berry Growers of Ontario, chair of the Norfolk County Agricultural Advisory Council, member of Canadian Horticulture Council’s Berry Working Group, and the Young Farmer Representative for the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, among others. In 2017, Zamecnik received the Ontario Outstanding Young Farmer Award. In his limited spare time, Zamecnik hones his entrepreneurial skills by growing Hometown Brew Co., a joint venture with his cousins that uses local produce, including EZ Grow’s own blueberries and hops.
“Dusty’s passion for the industry and energy for ongoing education and innovation is contagious,” says Mallen, “and we can’t wait to see what he will do next.”
- More at Greenhouse Canada