Milpitas Camera Club Field Trip
Field Trip: Goldsmith Seed Company
Trip Date: July 26, 2008
Report Author: Scott Hinrichs
Report Date: July 29, 2008

Ten Milpitas Camera Club members and associates gathered under the wysteria arbor at the Goldsmith Seed Company headquarters in Gilroy to meet our tour guide, Keith, for a tour of the inside of some of the greenhouses.

For a few years running weve been meeting at Goldsmith to view the colorful test plots that surround the company facilities.

This year, we arranged for a tour of a few of the large, climate-controlled greenhouses. I really enjoyed the tour and Keiths knowledgable and well-rehearsed presentation. (He said that hes given this tour for twelve years.) Keith previously worked as the public relations officer for this 46-year-old, family-owned company. Now he just gives tours in his spare time and it is evident that he still enjoys it.

Goldsmith generously welcomes guests to come and look at its colorful palette of test flowers from a landscaped strolling garden, that even offers an observation deck, benches and a restroom facility. If you would like a tour for a group of your friends, you can call Keith at home and arrange to see the inside of some of the extensive facilities. (I can give you his telephone number in case you would like it.)

This Saturday, July 26, 2008, the test beds were in peak bloom offering some perfect blossoms for those with a penchant for flower photography. Of course, as good guests, we were obligated not to pick any of the flowers or trample the flower beds.

The company has quite an interesting background. Goldsmith is a multinational company specializing in developing new varieties of flowering plants. Goldsmith is a family-owned company, founded in 1962 by Glenn and Jane Goldsmith. Founder Glen Goldsmith graduated in 1950 from U.C. Davis with a bachelors degree in plant genetics and did his graduate work at UCLA in ornamental horticulture. He went into the seed producing business in Central America before coming to Gilroy to establish Goldmith with his first crops of snap dragons, dianthus, petunias and geraniums. Over the years, the company has grown in leaps and bounds, adding plant breeders, technicians and greenhouse workers to a staff that now exceeds 4,000 persons. For 42 years, Goldsmith has built new laboratories, greenhouses, research stations and seed-production sites in order to Goldsmith sons guiding a tour group of international tourists when we began our tour.

Some of the companys facilities include far-flung production sites in Guatemaula and Kenya and a research station in the Netherlands. The companys literature proudly lays claim to the distinction of producing the best flower varieties in the world. Apparently thats a claim they have no problem backing up. Their varieties have won numerous awards in many prestigious shows, including 22 All American Selections awards and 14 Fleuroselect medals. Goldsmith geraniums have been planted on the grounds of Buckingham Palace in London. The variety of "Americana Red" geraniums were selected because, in addition to their horticultural performance requirements for Englands climate, they precisely matched the color of red in the palace guardsmens uniforms. Goldsmith also took part in the 2004 Chelsea Flower Show in London, England. The event is sponsored by the Royal Horticultural Society and first began in 1912.

Keith gave us an hour and a half tour of four or five large greenhouses. Personally I was fascinated by the process of breeding and germinating flowers for market. The company only breeds flowers through cross-pollination and apparently does not employ any genetic modification techniques. The Gilroy greenhouses are temperature controlled so plants can be sprouted, grown and manipulated year round. According to Keith, the other facilities in Africa and Central America are near the equator and therefore need no expensive infrastructure (greenhouses). Those facilities are the ones that produce the seeds for market and the facilities in Gilory and Holland are the research stations.

Goldsmiths specialties now include geraniums, impatiens, cyclamen, petunias, dianthus and geraniums. The flower test plots are easily seen from the grounds of their Gilroy facility and the inner court of the main building features several flower beds around a lawn accented by a koi pond and small Japanese style bridge. There are various surprises hidden on the grounds including a sunflower plot way in the back and a good sized swimming pool on the grounds.

After the tour of the flower facility the group broke into its respective carpools and our group of three went over to the Gilroy Garlic Festival to take a look around. We played $12 a head to verify the fact that we never needed to go to the Garlic Festival again in our lives!

Hope you all enjoyed the tour as much as I did! Thanks for coming!

© 2008 S.R. Hinrichs