Eubank, Kentucky – Ashley DeBord is the owner and operator of Glory Gardens and Greenhouse LLC in Eubank, Kentucky. Managing her business during the pandemic led to adjustments in how she operates and created a bevy of new customers.
Ashley always had a passion for horticulture. As a college graduation gift, she received a 10-foot by 12-foot hobby greenhouse from her parents. That hobby turned into a full-fledged business in 2012 when the lifelong vegetable and plant grower decided to scale up production.
Before she and her husband Stephen had their two sons, Logan and Ellis, Ashley had 8 acres of vegetables.
With help from Farm Service Agency’s farm loan programs, Ashley purchased equipment to put in her vegetable crops.
Her focus is less on growing produce now that a larger greenhouse has been built for flowers, vegetable plants, herbs and hanging baskets.
A Season Like No Other
The spring of 2020 would be like no other, one where Ashley, and her customers, had to learn to adapt to new ways of doing business.
“As with every year, we prepared for our greenhouse to be buzzing with customers, but what we hadn’t prepared for was COVID-19,” she said. “It took some time and creativity to find a way to get our product to our customers but also to be diligent in keeping our family as well as our customers healthy and safe.”
To make this happen, Ashley would only allow one family in the greenhouse at a time to promote social distancing. Customers were asked to remain in their vehicle until the greenhouse was clear.
“This step is necessary because the greenhouse is so crowded with plants this time of the year, and it is difficult to move around while giving others 6 foot of space,” she said. “We felt it would be easier for people to shop if they were not concerned with keeping their distance.”
Additionally, she moved her check-out station outdoors and provided hand washing stations.
A New Crop of Customers
The circumstances surrounding 2020 also brought in a surge of new customers to Glory Gardens and Greenhouse. In a normal year, Ashley would see 15 to 20 customers a day, whereas this year, she would see up to 85 customers a day. “For the first time, I saw my generation, those in their 20s and 30s, coming to the greenhouse,” she said. “We had lots and lots of first-timers.”