By Pat Payton
In these uncertain and difficult times, things are changing and will likely continue to change.
A good example of that is what you will find at Petals and Foliage Inc., located at 1729 Perth Road 139, just west of Rannoch.
“I think a lot of people are concerned about what is going to happen with their food,” owner Glenna Day Hicks said in a recent interview with the Independent. “We have had more soil deliveries and more vegetable sales, before we even opened, than what we’ve had before.”
Hicks’ partner Chris Stanley can’t keep up with the demand for soil. “People are building their raised-up vegetable boxes, and getting their seeds and plants, and we’re delivering the soil,” she says. “The demand for soil deliveries has never been like this.”
Hicks compares it a little to the ‘victory gardens’ which were planted to increase food production during the Second World War. “We have families saying, ‘we’ve never put a garden in, how do we do it? It’s something families can do together; they have to eat and it can be a fun, learning family activity.”
Growers grow less
COVID-19 concerns also changed the way growers approached this season, Hicks noted.
“Our biggest issue is that growers only grew 70 percent of what they normally do,” she says. “In January and February when they started seeds, they were thinking ‘are greenhouses going to be allowed to be open?’ So they decided to grow less because they didn’t know if nurseries like us were going to be doing any ordering.
“We’re sitting here with a pretty good selection, but not what we’ve had in the past. Growers are now wishing they would have grown their full crop because one thing is for certain, people do want flowers. It makes their lives more beautiful.”
Petals and Foliage has operated at its Rannoch area location for the past 13 years. In addition to Hicks and Stanley, Hicks’ daughter Emma and her partner Evan Doupe are other members of the family-run business.
Stanley opened his first greenhouse in Dresden when he was just 16 years old, and then attended Niagara College. Altogether, he has 32 years experience of being a horticulturist.
This year, Hicks says the big sellers have been vegetables, herbs and soil. “We just can’t keep up with the orders. Of course flowers are always a big seller. The community has really supported us over the years, and this year is no different.”
Business open six days
The business is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and closed Sundays.
“That’s new for us because we were always open Sundays,” Hicks noted. “We need that day to fill orders. Spring is our busiest time of the year, weather never really plays a part in it. We never know what our year is going to be like. If it starts out slow, it picks up, and if it starts fast, it slows down.
“Due to how we have our tables set up, customers aren’t going to be allowed in this year. Our aisles are not wide enough, and there is no way we could keep everything sterilized.”
When customers place their order, they pick them up at the door.
“Customers can also pay by e-transfer and we just load their order and away they go,” Hicks says. “Emma and Evan spent so much time setting up a website so customers can see what we have in stock and place their order at www.petalsandfoliage.ca. People are finding it easy to place their order this way.
“I really miss seeing and visiting with everyone though. The greenhouse was a place for a lot of socializing in the past. Over the years, we have watched families grow along with our business.”
Get family help
Glenna Hicks says Evan’s parents Kevin and Joyce Doupe have been a “big help” this spring.
“I don’t know what we’d do without Evan’s parents right now,” she said. “They’re picking up our supplies for us; they’re doing the trucking for us because we just can’t keep up. It’s a beautiful thing to work together as a family. Life doesn’t get any better than that.
“Normally we’d call up a grower and ask what day we could come by. We’d go through with big carts and pick what we want. But we’re not allowed to go into their greenhouses due to COVID-19. Now, we order what we want and they put it on a cart. Kevin and Joyce load it up and bring it to us. They are stepping up to do what is needed and have been a wonderful addition to our family.
“These times are uncertain for sure, but the community has trusted us to do the best for them, and they still can,” she added.
By Pat Payton