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The Vriends family of John’s Greenhouses in Summerside

Way Up West
by Jan Cox

Chris, Jennifer and Kevin (photo: Jan Cox)Chris Vriends is the face of John’s Greenhouses in Summerside.

“John” was Chris’s grandfather. John and his wife Jocena immigrated from Holland. They picked strawberries, farmed and finally bought an existing Summerside garden centre in 1959. There were three large greenhouses then. Now there are thirty-two buildings on the property. 

John and Jocena began to sell what they had seen in Holland—hanging baskets, potted plants, annuals etc. and started to offer landscaping services. They built the business up following their vision and in 1979 Chris Vriends Senior along with his wife Myra took over running the greenhouses. The business was bought again in 2013, making brothers Chris and Kevin the third generation to own and operate John’s Greenhouses Ltd.

Chris has worked in the family operation since he was 13—with 33 years experience, he wouldn’t do anything else. “Guess you could say I’m the front guy. Right from the start I knew this is what I wanted to do. I want to honour my grandfather’s name. We take pride in our work because of that. I’m excited to be here every day,” said Chris. And that excitement shows. It is his passion.

The business has changed over the years Chris went on the explain, “Our main thing is designing garden beds. We have three landscaping crews now.”

Already known for selling and growing a huge variety of plants, John’s Greenhouses has an expansion in the works for this year.

The wholesale business is almost 40% of their current sales. Chris’s dad still delivers the stock to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and all over Prince Edward Island.

As Chris proudly looks out over the property and rows and rows of plants, one wonders what he is thinking next. Whatever it is, it will be for the good of his customers, that is for certain.

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