Sustainable practices are the foundation of Midwest Groundcovers. These concepts can be observed daily at our facilities:
SUSTAINABLE PLANTING – MIDWEST SOLUTIONS®
Midwest Groundcovers takes a special interest in educating customers by promoting sustainable planting design as well as offering a wide variety of plants that are native to the Midwest region. Midwest Solutions® is an easy-to-use system for creating sustainable planting solutions to meet our tough midwest challenges.
NATURAL GARDEN NATIVES® LOCAL ECOTYPE NATIVE PLANTS
In the winter of 2011, Midwest Groundcovers acquired The Natural Garden, a leading native plant nursery established in 1953. The acquisition has increased the range of Midwest’s native plant offerings and provided customers access to a diverse array of local eco-type native plants. The Natural Garden Natives® plant line is separately inventoried and identified as regional ''eco-'' or ''geno-'' type with seed origin of the parent plants gathered from remnant natural areas within 90 miles of the St. Charles nursery. These native plants occurred naturally in the Midwest region before European settlement and are genetically adapted to Illinois soil and climate conditions.
In production and in our sales and office facilities, glass, plastic, paper / cardboard, and aluminum are sorted and recycled. Within the Midwest Groundcovers offices, reusable dishes and utensils are supplied in order to reduce the amount of waste produced from daily use and events. Within our production facilities, white and clear covering plastic is reused for 3 years and then recycled whereas most growers replace 100% of covering plastic every year. Pots and flats in good condition are reused within the nurseries. For some of our containers (pints and #1s primarily), we are able to work with a regional supplier who takes a portion of our container plastic. They then clean, grind and utilize the reground material to make new containers we use. Instead of disposing of vehicles that are no longer road-worthy, they are kept for use strictly on company property to transport people, equipment and plants.
Due to changes in the worldwide recycling industry, it became necessary to suspend our industry container recycling program in 2019 which we had launched in 2009. New Chinese restrictions that began in January 2018 have eliminated their intake of recyclables and have had a devastating impact on the world’s recycling systems. Learn more about the tremendous challenges and current state of the world’s recycling industry here: National Geographic Article
The Virgil and Michigan production facilities are actively involved in composting old plant material and clippings. The material is composted for a period of time and then reused by spreading it over our production fields, added to potting mixes or spread in local farm fields.
GREEN BUILDING SUPPLIER
Midwest Groundcovers and Midwest Trading are both actively involved in supplying and supporting the green roof and green wall markets. Midwest Trading also supports this market by supplying various specially blended soil media that include natural compost materials.
In 2012, 2,800 square feet of solar panels where installed on the roof of our maintenance building. The solar PV system will produce over 48,430 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy annually and more than one million kWh over the next 25 years. This is enough energy to power approximately thirteen average U.S. homes each year. The environmental benefits associated with the system will offset nearly 900 thousand pounds of carbon dioxide over the initial 25 years of operation.
INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Midwest Groundcovers has been practicing Integrated Pest Management for many years. In addition, new state of the art spray equipment is used which delivers the optimal amount of chemical to the plant surface reducing chemical waste by 20-30%. At the Virgil production facility a fertilizer injection system allows for more efficient application and greatly reduces the amount of waste and runoff.
USE OF BIOFUELS
Biodiesel fuel is used in all Midwest Groundcovers delivery trucks. Also, to help reduce the amount of fuel consumption, natural biofuels, including onsite wood and cardboard, are used for heating growing/propagation houses in the winter.
All three Midwest Groundcovers locations are active in water conservation programs. More than 90% of rain and irrigation water is contained on the nursery site for reuse. Native plants act as filters in vegetative swales and a silting pond which improves the quality of the runoff before the water reaches detention basins. Drip irrigation is also used for many crops to conserve water and minimize runoff.