Andrew Wenger has always been interested in greenhouses.
His grandparents and parents moved to Dallas County from southern Maryland in 1972 and were primarily dairy farmers. But although Andrew grew up on a dairy farm, his grandparents and parents both had greenhouses.
Later, he worked in woodworking for 12 years before starting a greenhouse operation on his property at 173 School Road in the Leadmine area in 2005. Wenger’s Greenhouse started with tomatoes, then branched out into a large variety of plants and flowers.
Today, Wenger’s has two retail greenhouses, along with large displays in front of the greenhouses. It also has three greenhouses for growing the products. Andrew uses firewood to heat the greenhouses.
For several years Wenger also sold products at the Bolivar Farmers Market, but since the huge Leadmine Produce Auction opened in 2011, he utilizes that venue quite a bit to sell products. His primary retail outlets by far, however, are the two retail greenhouses.
The Leadmine Produce Auction on Route T is less than a mile from Wenger’s Greenhouse and opens every Tuesday and Friday at noon.
“I like to grow things,” Wenger said, “and I like to try new things, including shrubbery, which we added five years ago.” He added that some products don’t sell as well as others, and it is not always easy to predict what will sell.
Hanging baskets have been a favorite for many years, but Wenger said there also is a trend toward individual pots of flowers or plants. Perennials, roses and geraniums continue to be big sellers, along with bedding plants.
He emphasized that although he sells a lot of tomato, squash, cucumber and other vegetable plants, he doesn’t try to sell very many actual tomatoes or other vegetables.
“Many people in Dallas County live in the country, so they have their own gardens for growing vegetables,” he said.
At the same time, however, he is in the process of growing some fruit trees and blueberries.
“They are quite a challenge, and produce takes a lot of manual hand labor,” he said.
Wenger has two sisters-in-law who work in the retail greenhouses, “and they know how to talk to customers and help them,” he said.
Always looking for new ideas, Wenger enjoys attending greenhouse organization meetings once a year to share experiences and find out what some others are doing.
He and his wife, Dorinda, have eight children — the oldest is 12 1/2 and the two youngest are 3-month-old twins.
“Our greenhouse business has helped us make a living and feed our family,” Wenger said. “I thank God for giving me the ability to grow things so we can accomplish that.”
Directions to Wenger’s Greenhouse: from Buffalo, north on Mo. 73, east on Route E, south on Route T for short distance, turn right on School Road and look for the Wenger’s sign on the right.