EAST LETART, OHIO — In the midst of uncertainty and social isolation, Spring offers the opportunity to go outside and spend time in the fresh air. Some are going for walks or hiking, others have tuned up their bicycles, motorcycles or ATVs.
For gardeners, the urge to plant takes precedent, and for many years the spring opening of Darrell Norris and Son Greenhouses has been a highly anticipated event. Many were wondering if they might have to forgo the opportunity to shop for their favorite plants and vegetables during the current pandemic.
Those concerns have been put to rest, and this season customers are enjoying the experience in a COVID-19 compliant environment at Norris Greenhouses. Their opening in April literally gave planters from all over Southeast Ohio a breath of fresh air.
The outbreak of COVID-19 required the operation to make a few changes, including curbside pickup of orders by request, limiting the number of guests in the greenhouse at one time, and the addition of plexiglass at the checkout counter. Employees wear masks, and a hand washing station has been installed at the entrance.
Walking into the retail greenhouse filled with colorful flowers and plants, it is easy to forget what is happening outside this bubble of color and fragrance. Customers browse this one acre greenhouse where helpful workers assist with product selection and questions.
In the adjacent greenhouses, workers prepare plants for wholesale shipments to surrounding states and continuously endeavor to keep the retail greenhouse stocked.
Although concerned about the impact of the virus on sales, when it is planting time in Ohio, gardeners are eager procure their plants, and according to greenhouse manager Tracy Hupp, so far retail sales have not been affected.
This is a family owned business, and Hupp was eager to point out several of the workers were family members who would usually have been in school instead of helping out in the greenhouse, and said they were enjoying their time together.
“This year we are all here working together, before it was just on weekends. But since there is no school, they are here everyday.”
So on a rainy Thursday morning, it was business as usual at Darrell Norris & Son Greenhouses — at least for the most part. It is a small community where everyone knows each other and many are related, hugs and handshakes usually abound. It has also been common to stop awhile and visits with someone you haven’t seen all winter. But this year is different: social distancing means shoppers are scattered, and many wear masks making it difficult to talk to someone ten feet away.
It is much quieter in the greenhouse, but maybe that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is less distraction, more opportunity to browse the selection without a crowd, more time to focus on what you want to plant in your garden or flower boxes. More time to daydream about what those plantings will look like… but there is a lot to be said for a greenhouse with excited planters sharing their joy at finding just the right plant or deciding to experiment with something new.
This spring has brought challenges for humans, so perhaps flowers can teach us that despite the circumstances, they still bloom.
Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Norris Greenhouses is located at 24020 Hill Road, Racine, Ohio. For more information call 740-247-2684 or check out their Facebook page.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.