Running a small business in Southeast Ohio takes hard work, tenacity, and gumption. People start small businesses for a number of different reasons, so in our new 3-part series, I would like to introduce you to three ACEnet clients. You may already know them, but if you don’t this is your opportunity to learn about them, their businesses, and why they started them.
We met Gina Gabriel last year when she came to an ACEnet small business class at the Glouster Library. She told us that she had bought some land, opened Congress Run Greenhouse, and began selling plants. Here, in her own words, she explained her start to the present:
“’Don’t worry,’ 8 year old Marcus said to his muddy little brother Gabe, ‘we’re country boys now.’ Just like that, we city folk turned into country folk when we moved our family of 8 from Columbus to Glouster in November of 2017. We fell in love with the rolling hills and quiet mornings on our 11 acre farm complete with several greenhouses. What started out as an intention to homestead as a hobby, quickly turned into a pull-up-your-bootstraps business when my husband lost his city job due to major job cuts within AT&T.
Thankfully, our neighbors and previous owners of the farm have been helping us right along, teaching us the ways of greenhouse growing and farming. My dad jumped in to help with data and execution and ACEnet also offered guidance, teaching and customized tools for marketing encouraging us to utilize Facebook and Instagram to promote and connect with customers. This has led to an increase in sales and also the opportunity to grow basil, garlic and cherry tomatoes for my brother Vinny, with Pelino’s Pasta.
Late winter the greenhouse started bustling. I raise flowers and vegetable plants mostly from seed, while also taking custom orders for rare or heirloom plants that customers aren’t able to germinate themselves. Many Congress Run Greenhouse customers were also informing me that they aren’t putting out as big of gardens this year and they have to drive all the way down to the river to buy tomatoes in bulk. As a result, I am growing tomatoes, cherry and heirloom and slicer tomatoes, mangoes and hot peppers, even Reapers, cucumbers, zucchini, garlic, green onions and sweet potatoes. As I continue my farming venture, my hope is that I can connect locals with fresh home grown produce which can be bought on Saturdays at Congress Run Greenhouse at Gabriel Farms from 10am-2pm.”
Gina does a wonderful job keeping her Facebook page up to date with new information and pictures. You can visit Congress Run Greenhouse at 11789 Congress Run Rd, Glouster, OH 45732 or you can call (614) 906-4890.
Community Update by ACEnet Microenterprise Program Trainer, Kyle Verge