Vladimir Rogov is a 2020 graduate of Niagara College’s Greenhouse Technician (Co-op) program and was a greenhouse research assistant with Research & Innovation’s Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC) for eight months. Vladimir is now employed as a grower at BoemBerry Farms in Kingsville, Ont.
Tell us about where you work:
I currently work as a grower at BoemBerry Farms in Kingsville, Ont. Our company is one of the largest strawberry greenhouses in North America. The greenhouse has doubled in size this year and now totals 30 hectares, which is all climate controlled under glass. The strawberries can be found with the “Smuccies” label in stores, and they are distributed by Mucci Farms.
I began working full-time at BoemBerry Farms as an assistant grower in September 2020.
Describe your role and what you like about it:
With the most recent completion of the expansion this year, there was a lot of work to be done. We had to simultaneously plan for the new expansion while continuing to push for better production numbers in the original greenhouse. This has been an extraordinary challenge, but I am confident that everything will go as planned throughout the summer of 2021.
How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?
I cannot begin to express the importance of familiarizing myself with Microsoft Excel while working with the R&I team at Niagara College. Microsoft Excel has helped me with organizing data from our various trials, registering water measurements, logging climate data, and so much more!
A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
My first project with the R&I team at Niagara College had me collecting data on reusing rockwool with various growing media mixes. The preliminary data showed us that plants grown in a mix with a higher rockwool percentage were able to mature in a shorter amount of time. The small pieces of rockwool helped with aerating the rootzone and gave a boost to the plant’s early development.
What led you to Niagara College in the first place?
I enrolled in NC with the hopes of getting a job in the cannabis sector but got involved with growing strawberries instead!
Most memorable experience at NC?
This would have to be the various karaoke nights we had at the end of each month!
Is there a particular mentor at either R&I or a faculty member who influenced you?
I would say Derek Schulze, who was my greenhouse professor and mentor for the duration of my time with R&I, influenced me the most. He was the individual that helped me land the job with Boem Berry Farms!
“Networking is one of the biggest factors helping me reach my goals. The more people you know, the more opportunities will be made available to you.”
What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?
Your time in college will fly by you, and I would suggest enjoying every moment of it.
Also, networking is one of the biggest factors helping me reach my goals. The more people you know, the more opportunities will be made available to you.
After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
Always listen more than you speak. Obtain a valuable skill that helps people. Always be willing to do the work that you might feel you are “above” doing.
Proudest achievement since graduating?
Landing a growing job shortly after graduation and learning a lot within the greenhouse industry.
What are you passionate about at the moment?
I’m currently working on ideas to start a tree nursery business. I am experimenting with propagating various trees and shrubs.
Interests outside of work?
I am a huge advocate for improving my physical health, and I will mostly be found in the gym after work. In the summer, I spend most of my evenings long-distance swimming, doing laps in a pool until exhaustion. However, since I moved down to Kingsville and no longer have a pool, I will be swimming at Point Pelee National Park after work. I’m practising to someday swim across Lake Ontario when I build up enough endurance and pain tolerance.
If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?
Work hard in silence, let success make the noise.