Victoria is known as Canada's garden city. However, thanks to the innovative thinking of Deb Foisey, Alberta is a leader in greenhouse mapping.
In 2021 Foisey, owner of Deb’s Greenhouse on Highway 642 about three kilometres west of Morinville, plotted a Google map of Sturgeon County greenhouses — both established and start-ups. The online map was designed for gardeners and nature lovers as an open, self-guided greenhouse tour.
Foisey started with a dozen Sturgeon County greenhouses and by May 2021, she had pinned 26 family-owned and operated nurseries on a Google map and available at www.debsgreenhouse.com.
Alberta is the heart of cattle country in Canada. But as of May 2022, the two-digit number of greenhouses on the map spiked to 193 province-wide nurseries, from Sunscape Gardens in High Level to Hilltop Greenhouses at Monarch, Alta.
“It’s fantastic. We’re going to pin as many greenhouses on the map as possible. I just received a few more to work on and get on the Google map,” Foisey said.
Officially dubbed the Alberta Greenhouse Drive Map, it has morphed into a novel form of agri-tourism with direct economic benefit to growers. And for consumers, it offers an engaging, self-directed experience rooted in fun and relaxation.
"I personally don't know of any other province that's doing it," said Foisey.
So far, the map has received 100,400 hits. Users simply click on a pin. Up pops the nursery’s name, location, address, phone number, website address, and other key information. In all its simplicity, the pins allow users to plot their personal choices.
“We had a lady from Peace River phone up and say she was going away with a friend on a three-day tour. When she told her husband, he asked where she was going and she held up a cellphone with the map on it,” laughed Foisey.
The resourceful entrepreneur was recently tapped for an article in the April 2022 Greenhouse Canada edition as well as receiving interest from Green Profit Magazine in the United States. A Saskatchewan association also approached her about creating a greenhouse map for the province.
“I said no. I don’t know the greenhouses and growers in Saskatchewan.”
With each season, more interprovincial interest is landing on Foisey’s doorstep.
“It seems it happens a lot. I’m doing things outside the box. I see value in not only highlighting my business, but promoting the industry as a whole. This industry is stronger as a whole if we remain friendly with each other instead of competing against each other. We always share problems and solutions,” said Foisey.
As the current past president of the Albert Greenhouse Growers Association, she is experienced in leadership roles and sees the big picture for the industry's future growth.
“I envision every province will have a map when there is more national and international coverage. I plan to keep my map in Alberta, and I hope someone takes the initiative in neighbouring provinces.