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Kiowa County Signal - Kiowa County, KS
  • Greenhouses bring beauty, business to county

  • At either ends of the county two families have made beauty their business. From the rows of rainbow annuals to the perfect perennial, Headrick’s Greenhouse in Mullinville, now in its 14th year, and Thompson Greenhouse, now in its third year, are bringing plump peppers, juicy tomatoes and dainty daffodils to area residents.


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  • At either ends of the county two families have made beauty their business. From the rows of rainbow annuals to the perfect perennial, Headrick’s Greenhouse in Mullinville, now in its 14th year, and Thompson Greenhouse, now in its third year, are bringing plump peppers, juicy tomatoes and dainty daffodils to area residents.
    Hannah and Rick Headrick opened their greenhouse and tree farm on the east side of Mullinville in 1988. Rick was a graduate of the K-State Horticulture Department and Hannah a graduate of the natural resource management program at K-State.
    “When I was in Manhattan in the horticulture department we did a plant sale every spring, we grew our own,” said Rick. “I really enjoyed doing it I guess.”
    The Headricks bought their current greenhouse on Cherry Street in 1997 and they have been in that location ever since.
    “I used to come here when I was a kid, when the Liggetts were running it,” he said.
    Headrick says he gets a lot of pleasure from seeing his flowers in a yard or growing in a neighbors garden.
    “There are some that come back every year and I like seeing those,” he said. “A lot of this comes from seed. So I see it from the seed, getting it planted to selling it and to see it grow, there is a lot of satisfaction in that.”
    Headrick says that gardens and vegetables have been very popular thus far.
    “People are starting on their tomatoes,” he said. “Veggies are bigger than they were a few years ago. People have been buying a lot of peppers, tomatoes and onions.”
    Working alongside his wife and two daughters, Haley and Sydney, he says he’s been happy with his sales over the past few seasons, getting regular customers from towns along the local stretch of U.S. 54 and neighboring towns.
    “It’s been up and down with the weather but we’re off to a good start [this season],” said Headrick. “[Over the past few seasons] we’ve been doing really well even though the economy has been bad, business has been good.”
    When asked if there would be a 15th year, Headrick had no doubt. He was even planning some upgrades and renovations to the 40-year-old greenhouse during the off-months. 
    “Oh sure [we’ll be here]. We need to re-cover some of the roof and sides of both of the greenhouses, so we’re looking to do some of that before we open next season.”
    Cheryl Cook, who lives in Bucklin, but works at the Mullinville State Bank was combing rows of tomato plants at Headrick Greenhouse looking for the perfect addition to her ever-growing garden.
    “I’ve been coming here forever. This year I’ve been here about four times and they laugh at me every time I walk in,” chuckled Cook, who has made numerous visits since the greenhouse opened just after Valentine’s Day. “Today I’m buying my tomatoes, the other trips I bought all of my flowers. This is the only place I’ll shop for flowers and plants. I work here in Mullinville, so it isn’t a far drive and it’s closer than Dodge City.”
    Page 2 of 2 - On the opposite side of the county, down a small dirt road and around the corner from the Haviland Grade School, Brandon Thompson, a self described “green-thumb” lugs a hose and garden sprayer up and down the small aisles of his east county greenhouse making friends with the thirsty flowers and plants.
    “After the tornado in Greensburg, my father and I knew Joan Hayes pretty well,” said Thompson. “After she lost her greenhouse we didn’t think there was going to be anybody who would have one in the county anymore. So we decided to do one.”
    Now in their third year, Thompson’s Greenhouse, found only by following a trail of cardboard signs luring customers from the highway with their bright tomato logo, houses a variety of small vegetables and flowers.
    “I like being my own boss,” said Thompson when asked about his favorite part of the job. “That’s what I like the most. Obviously it’s fun to help the community and help them with their gardening needs as well. And the people of course, without them where would we be?”
    Thompson’s did all of the flowers in front of the old boy’s dorm building and along the grand walkway of the nearby Barclay College campus. 
    “We do a lot of business with Barclay so we get a lot of personal gratification from that because we can always drive by and look at our work up there.”
    Bringing beauty to their customers has also brought them financial success, with a third year typically the make-or-break year from a small business, Thompson said confidently, “It’s looking good. We will be here for a fourth year.”
    Jana Hawkins, a pre-school teacher at The Haviland Friends Church was shopping for more plants to ad to their Spring Garden. Accompanied by her son, Cylis, who was clutching a small jalapeno plant, Hawkins praised the small locally owned greenhouse.
    “We used to go to Stutzman’s in Pratt,” said Hawkins. “But now we do all of shopping here. We get all of our flowers but we also get all of our garden stuff, tomatoes peppers, cucumbers, squash all that stuff. It’s great.”
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