ST. PETER’S: The Greenhouse Co-op here has received attention for its efforts during these unprecedented times.
Taina Feitosa nominated the Greenhouse Co-op in Advocate Media’s “Shine On” campaign highlighting local businesses which have gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The ladies at the Greenhouse Co-op [started] working on their seed orders in the winter,” Feitosa wrote in her nomination. “Even with COVID-19 affecting the world and our community, they kept on planning and working to have their store open in May, as they always do. Luckily, they were able to open their business for the season so everyone can enjoy their beautiful flower baskets in the summer. They are also growing veggies and edible plants, and will assist the customers on staring their own veggie garden.”
The three-member worker co-op of Connie Stewart, Debbie MacDonald and Carol Dixon-Nightengale said although there was a lot of uncertainty in March, they decided to carry on.
“We just went ahead; our orders were already in and our plans were made when the state of emergency was announced,” the women said. “We decided it was risky but we wanted to go ahead. We didn’t want to end up in June with nothing.”
The worker co-op said their decision to push-on transcended the need for profits, but arose out of a recognition of their essential service to the community.
“We’re considered agri-food, we do sell a lot of veggies, trees, fruit trees, apple trees, berries,” the women noted. “Some of the rules didn’t apply to us, we were allowed to go ahead as agriculture.
“We’re well into our last bits of potato seeds, onions. People are coming in hand-over-fist for onions and potato. Veggie seeds are crazy, a lot of people are putting up greenhouses, thinking of growing their own food, a lot of people.”
With nine greenhouses on a large lot and customers spread out around the region, the women said crowds are not a problem, but they do their best to adhere to all public health protocols.
“We’ve been social distancing right from the get-go,” the women noted. “People can spread out really well. We’re encourage people to wear face masks if they want to, including our staff.”
In order to open the Greenhouse Co-op on May 1, the worker co-op members said a lot of work was required.
“For the most part, it went fairly smoothly although we’re still waiting for some things that should’ve been here weeks ago,” the women noted. “Mostly everything got here before the state of emergency was announced.”
Aside from being fortunate to get most of their supplies, the co-op also lost only one employee who was unable to report back to work because of the public health restrictions.
One reason for concern is that many customers of the Greenhouse Co-op are the owners of seasonal residences and live outside the region, the province, or even the country.
“We’re not sure how that’s going to go because they tend to do a lot of gardening and we’ll see but a lot of them won’t be able to come,” the women pointed out.
Also worth considering is that some of those the Greenhouse Co-op supplies include businesses, some of which are unsure when or if they will re-open this year.
Keeping in mind this uncertainty and stress, the women said the fact they’re open to the public and selling flowers, helps the mental health of their customers.
“People come in and say, ‘I just have to get out, this makes me feel so good,’” the women recall. “We’re an upbeat kind of place so we’re looking on the bright side here. Hopefully, when we get busy, June is really busy, hopefully people will be very respectful of physical distancing and not crowding around. Kind of stressful, but hopefully it will be fine.”
The winner of the “Shine On” campaign will receive an advertising package valued at $3,000 and the chance to be highlighted in Advocate Media’s publications in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. To nominate a business, go to: http://porthawkesburyreporter.com/shine-on/.