Stepping onto the rock-speckled dirt path, the first thing that can be seen from the front lawn of Northern Tropics Greenhouse is the rows of red, orange, and gold chrysanthemum flowers out on display. Further down the path, the plants from the five greenhouses emerge.
In the small, tiki lounge-themed checkout area, crystals, locally made honey, goat milk soap, and dip mixes line the shelves of the small building’s perimeter. These items come from local businesses and friends of owner Sandy Burrell, who she met during her time selling produce at local farmer’s markets.
“My mom always had a big garden,” Burrell said, “and me and my sister always said, ‘Oh, we'll never have a garden when we grow up.’ Well, guess what? We both have gardens.”
Before opening Northern Tropics Greenhouse in 2005, Burrell was a newlywed, stay-at-home mom with a big vegetable garden outside her home. While vacationing in Cozumel, Mexico, Burrell said she was amazed by the banana trees she saw and wanted to have one of her own.
With a little greenhouse built in the back of her house, Burrell stored her banana tree with the rest of her plants. At the same time, Burrell said she was researching heirloom tomatoes and started planting those in her greenhouse as well. At the end of the spring and summer season in 2005, Burrell was left with hundreds of heirloom tomatoes.
Northern Tropics Greenhouse has 80 different varieties of tomatoes and various types of hot pepper plants. Along with those, flowers, foliage, herbs, grasses, and tropical plants like Florida palm trees are also sold. Some of the succulent plants sold at Northern Tropics Greenhouse come from cuttings of other plants grown in the greenhouse like Mother plants and Tristania plants.
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