Local Flavor Tours

By Suzzane Marshall from the March 2014 Edition

VIVEPLANTS – Orchids & Exotics

Another Manzamigos Local Flavor Tour was enjoyed by twenty plus people, deftly organized by Crystal and Doug Winger. Commencing at the ‘Viveplants‘ location (a few kilometers north of Manzanillo) around 9:30 in the morning, we were all treated to an exceptionally informative tour of the entire operation and of course unending views of amazing orchids.


The tour group is flanked by Fidel on the right & Dr. Ernesto on the left. Apologies Dr. Ernesto, you didn’t quite fit into the photo that was taken

The tour was led by MSC. Fidel Maza Selvas, Director General/CEO and Dr./ PhD. Ernesto Aguirre Leon, Director de Investigacion y Desarrollo (R&D). We were all very impressed with the details and expertise that these two gentlemen walked us through. I will never view an orchid in the same way again since I now know how much time and care must be given to producing these amazing flowers It all began about 12 years ago, following a search up and down the Mexican east coast looking for the most perfect climate for producing orchids. Other important considerations also included water supply, property requirements and available personnel. Eventually the Manzanillo area was selected and the property (25 acres) was purchased and government funded donations were received to assist with the project and specifically for the needed greenhouses. With the expertise of Fidel being an agricultural engineer who has also studied in Japan, Hawaii, Mexico and the Netherlands, the business is now flourishing.

Beautiful ‘JADE’ orchids with a distinctly green tinge.

In the first of several huge greenhouses, Dr. Ernesto explained the germination process required for growing the orchids. The seeds shown to us were like individual spores (similar to dandelion fluff) and samples of germination taking place through various stages were demonstrated in sterile jars so that we could understand the delicate and sterile process required for germination and planting (see photo). This process takes between 1 to 1.5 years. The very first orchids ready for cutting will have been maturing for up to 4 years. Thus one begins to understand the higher prices paid for orchids. It is a long-term investment. Consider the fact that long-stem roses are ready for cutting and shipping in six weeks.

A few more interesting facts are:

 There are 1,200 orchid species growing in Mexico

 Brazil produces 5,000 species

 Worldwide there are estimates of 25,000 species and 70,000 hybrids.
 1 hectare can produce 50,000 plants

The business of shipping and distributing orchids is no less interesting than the growing. Viveplants employs about 50 people. It is a very competitive business considering the Asian producers and the extremely cheap labor in Asian countries. Consistency of price, supply, and quality guarantee are critical for sustained growth. Part of this philosophy means that the best blooms/plants are shipped first. Other plants may be downgraded or composted.

The business of shipping and distributing orchids is no less interesting than the growing. Viveplants employs about 50 people. It is a very competitive business considering the Asian producers and the extremely cheap labor in Asian countries. Consistency of price, supply, and quality guarantee are critical for sustained growth. Part of this philosophy means that the best blooms/plants are shipped first. Other plants may be downgraded or composted.

The germinating orchids in the above jar were started eight months ago.
Once sized and sorted, orchids are packaged in small packets containing materials with nutrients and water for their journey. They can travel many days without problems.

Viveplants has demonstrated customer satisfaction with a growth rate of 40% in the past year or two. Employing both ground and air delivery they are responding to inquiries from Canada and U.S.A. which began in 2010 as well as the local market which ships all over Mexico.

Fidel then led us to the sorting and shipping areas which are very modern, clean and busy as many young women sort, snip and package the flowers for shipping.

For the better part of two and a half hours, the group of Manzamigos never lost interest and was greatly impressed by Fidel and Ernesto. The care and passion that must be necessary to produce these beautiful orchids became very obvious as the tour progressed. I think one could honestly label this a ‘labor of love’. And how tranquil it was, touring the sunny acres of blooms in the countryside enjoying the fresh air, learning something new and once again struck by the marvel of nature and the world we all share.

 

 

 

 

 

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Suzanne A. Marshall hails from western Canada and has been living the good life in Manzanillo over the past 8 years. She is a wife, mom and grandma. She is retired from executive business management where her writing skills focused on bureaucratic policy, marketing and business newsletters. Now she shares the fun and joy of writing about everyday life experiences in beautiful Manzanillo, Mexico, the country, its people, the places and the events.

Suzanne Marshall

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Suzanne A. Marshall hails from western Canada and has been living the good life in Manzanillo over the past 8 years. She is a wife, mom and grandma. She is retired from executive business management where her writing skills focused on bureaucratic policy, marketing and business newsletters. Now she shares the fun and joy of writing about everyday life experiences in beautiful Manzanillo, Mexico, the country, its people, the places and the events.

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