EAST LETART, OHIO — Norris Greenhouses in East Letart, Ohio in Meigs County is one of many family-owned greenhouses throughout the area.
Darrell Norris began farming crops of cabbage and tomatoes, but turned his attention to growing annuals in 1980. Since that time the business has expanded to include over 500,000 square feet of greenhouses with 85 employees.
Norris, along with son Ryan and daughter Tracy (Norris Hupp), are busy year-round with seasonal offerings. Spring is the most intense period, with annuals being shipped to fill orders across the region on a daily basis. Perennials and succulents have been added the past few years, but annuals are still the primary focus.
There is a brief period for regrouping when the last of the spring flowers are gone, then it is time to begin planning for mums in the fall, and poinsettias during the Christmas season.
Darrell said that everything is grown in their greenhouses from either seeds or plugs, and automation has allowed for increased production. (Plugs are small-sized seedlings. Once they arrive at the greenhouse, they are planted in trays or pots. This type of plug is used for commercially raising vegetables and bedding plants.)
“Our biggest challenge is planting, and automation enables us to increase the volume of plants we produce, and it makes everyone’s job easier,” Darrell said.
Trucks filled with annuals have been leaving the greenhouses since March 25. Norris said about 95 percent goes to wholesalers, the rest is sold in their retail space.
According to Tracy Norris Hupp, a lot of customers come back every year to purchase directly from their greenhouses.
“We have set up a space just for our retail customers,” Hupp said. “They enjoy coming every year to pick out their flowers, and we are happy to oblige.”
She encourages shoppers to come early, saying that most of their product is gone by the first of May.
“Things move quickly at the end of the season, we don’t know from one day to the next what will be left, and we don’t want anyone to be disappointed.”
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