The greenhouse industry is alive and well in Connecticut. For several years, it’s remained one of the largest and most important parts of the state’s agricultural economy.
Connecticut is home to an estimated 300 greenhouse businesses, including Grower Direct Farms (GDF), a family-owned commercial greenhouse company that’s been in Somers since 1981. Producing bedding and potted plants for regional and national retailers, GDF has a 40-acre greenhouse that CEO Sam Smith says helps preserve the state’s land while positively impacting both the local and state economies.
“Greenhouses often occupy large tracts of land, and our companies keep a lot of green space available across the state,” Smith says. “Plus, we’re taking farmland and making it intensely productive throughout the year. We’re able to be profitable no matter the season, which is especially important in a northern state like Connecticut, because the growing season is so short.”
Smith also points out that Connecticut’s greenhouse industry provides high-quality employment opportunities to people with various levels of education. John Casertano, fourth-generation owner of Cheshire-based Casertano Greenhouses, agrees, pointing out that he regularly employs 100 people – and during peak seasons, he has nearly 220 employees.
“We have 100 full-time positions at all times, and many of my staff members have been with me for 10 years or so,” Casertano says. “We, along with other members of Connecticut’s agriculture sector, are deeply connected to the communities in which we live and work, and we’re committed to seeing them thrive.”
Furthermore, Diane Karabin, who owns Karabin Farms in Southington and serves as president of the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association, says it benefits Connecticut residents to purchase plants from local businesses because they’re truly invested in their customers’ success.
“Your local growers will educate you and help you determine what will grow best in your situation – and in Connecticut,” Karabin says. “We’re growing plants that are appropriate for this climate, and you can trust us. Your success is our success.”