Garden City: Cornerstone business changes with the community

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story by Courtney Sexton | photo by Albert YeeWhen Bill Green started Primex Garden Center in 1943, his business was predominantly a wholesale agricultural distributor, serving farmers in then-rural Glenside, Pa.  Seventy years later, Green’s grandson, David, his wife Joan, and their son-in-law Danny are running a different kind of business at Primex, but one that’s proven to be as equally important to the community.

“We’ve changed with the area,” says Green, acknowledging Glenside’s progression into a densely populated suburb. In the mid-80s, the Greens built a greenhouse where a corrugated shed once stood. They purchased more property, added parking and, in 1995, built a second greenhouse. “[We have taken] little steps and larger steps to accommodate customers,” says Green, “moving away from farming equipment and in the direction of gardening and nursery.”

No longer a rural feed mill operation, Primex now serves backyard gardeners. They stock rare gardening supplies and employ horticultural experts. The center offers seasonal workshops, like fall vegetable planting and terrarium building and supports local organizations, such as Seeds for Learning, the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Green City Teachers. Their summer “Share the Harvest” program invites customers to donate excess produce to Philabundance, a food bank and hunger relief organization.

While Primex continues to expand, they’ve taken special effort to support the growing number of customers committed to organic gardening. Green sees this as a continuation of the work that Primex has been doing all along. “I’ve been doing this for 40 years,” says Green, “people need to garden. That’s why we still exist. There’s something about gardening, something about it that’s in us that makes us want to do it.”

Primex Garden Center, 435 W. Glenside Ave. primexgardencenter.com