UPDATED: Tornado hits Ontario greenhouse vegetables

06/09/2010 03:03:25 PM
Ashley Bentley

Along Seacliff Drive, a main road between Leamington and Kingsville, trees were uprooted and houses and businesses smashed to the ground by a downburst that accompanied the tornado. Yoder’s, a fresh flower greenhouse across the street from Gerry Mastronardi, was obliterated.

“We just finished cutting trees — 150-year-old trees that were all uprooted — and we’re just trying to clean up,” Mastronardi said. “I’ve got my crew still picking and packing.”

Kingsville-based Mucci International Marketing sits just a kilometer or two down the road from Yoder’s, but seems to have been mostly spared, said Sandra Dick, marketing coordinator.

“I don’t think it touched down right around us,” Dick said. “One of our old ranges had a little damage, but not much. And we had a couple growers that were hit, but it was minimal.”

Some greenhouse growers just a few miles off shore were not affected at all. Pure Hot House Foods Inc., Leamington, has not noticed any influx in its business due to neighbors with damage.

“For the shippers handling that acreage, they’ll have enough to cover, and it’s not like we’re in a shortage right now anyway,” said Jamie Moracci, president and co-owner.

And although Seacliff Drive and some of the surrounding streets were barricaded off, only accessible to residents with proof of address on their drivers’ licenses, the debris hasn’t had an effect on transportation.

Gilvesy said he’s working with provincial and federal government to obtain emergency funding for affected growers. Agricultural recovery funds were used last year in northern Ontario for apple crops damaged by a storm, Gilvesy said.

Despite the extreme damage to the area, no one was killed or seriously injured in the storm, a fact growers, shippers and association members in the area are grateful for.


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