Policy: Health Care

High times for Iowa greenhouse maker

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News,Business,Iowa,Health Care,Marijuana,Medical Marijuana

DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) — A greenhouse maker in northeast Iowa has reported a boost in sales as more states legalize the medical use of marijuana.

A corporate official at Engineering Services & Products Co. said demand from marijuana growers has caused an estimated 25 percent increase in greenhouse production in the past six to eight months at Growers Supply in Dyersville, the Telegraph Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1kxmjJK ).

Growers Supply is a division of FarmTek, and both are owned by ESAPCO, which is based in South Windsor, Connecticut.

"We've always had a wide variety of individuals coming to us, whether schools, hobby growers or commercial growers, but we've never seen the influx as we've had recently," said ESAPCO general manager Martina Bockenstedt.

Twenty-two states plus Washington, D.C., allow medical marijuana. Only Colorado and Washington state allow recreational use of marijuana. This month, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill that legalizes the use of cannabis oil extract to treat individuals with severe epilepsy.

A thriving local food movement in Iowa and elsewhere also has driven interest in the company's hydroponic and aquaponic systems, Bockenstedt said. She said the company has positioned greenhouse food production as more efficient and less dependent on weather.

"We have seen increased growth across the board, from commercial and hobby growers to schools wanting to teach kids how to eat healthy and grow their own food," she said. "And we anticipate continued sales growth as the locally grown food movement continues to spread."

Growers Supply greenhouse specialist Gabe Smutz said they've sold out classes offering tips on greenhouse food production.

"People want to know where their food comes from," Smutz said. "A lot of the fruit and vegetables in the supermarket ripen on a truck and don't have the greatest flavors, and are usually overpriced. By having them locally grown, you significantly lower the cost to transport your produce, providing less time from when it's harvested to when it hits the shelf, improving the quality of the product."

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com

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