New greenhouse a family affair - Republic-Times | News

New greenhouse a family affair

By on August 16, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Kayla Keeney

Growing up with a family of gardeners cultivated an early interest in planting and growing vegetables, fruits and plants for Kayla Keeney of Waterloo.

“I’ve always loved growing things and the idea behind making your own food,” she said.

Keeney, 30, is now taking that passion and channeling it into a new business known as Organic Works Greenhouse and Garden at 726 N. Rogers Street. She and her father, Clay Siedle, began operating their business out of the former Diehl’s Floral & Gifts greenhouse in February.

“Without him — he has more than 40 years experience in gardening,” she said of the help Clay brings to the business.
Clay maintains the garden just outside the greenhouse while Keeney mainly focuses on the work inside the structure. A portion of the vegetables and fruits grown include bell peppers, sweet peppers, corn, watermelon, broccoli, kale, onions, beans and several varieties of tomatoes, but the list extends far beyond these items.

“It doesn’t end,” Keeney conceded.

Most of the same is grown both in the greenhouse and outside in the garden, though Keeney said zucchini and squash can’t be sustained in the greenhouse.

Keeney uses Community Supported Agriculture to sell products directly to the consumer. CSA is a personal relationship between farmer and eater, according to organicworks.org.

“You get the freshest possible ingredients from a farmer that you know and the farm gets advance knowledge of demand so he or she can focus on growing healthy food and getting the food to you,” the website adds, describing a benefit of CSA.

Over time, she hopes to add a farmers market that will run from June through October. Keeney said she chose not to include the farmers market this season because she didn’t get the business open in time.

The new Foundations Montessori School at the same address — owned and operated by Kayla’s mother, Robin Siedle, with co-owner Rachel Kimme — will use the greenhouse and garden to teach students to plant and grow their own food.

“They’ll build a garden bed and the kids can see their plants and watch them grow. It feels good,” Keeney said of the partnership.

To get her business off the ground required a lot of work as Keeney took over a greenhouse that saw no use or maintenance in years.

“I had to fight (Bush Honeysuckle) that had been growing because someone left the vent open,” she said. “I had to get birds out — they were a pain to remove.”

And even after being opened, the process of expanding the greenhouse and garden is neverending.

“All through the summer, we kept adding more beds,” she said.

Keeney estimated the variety of plants she grows only accounts for one-fourth of the space of the 5,000 square-foot greenhouse. However, she said she hopes to eventually see the whole building being used.

Her plan is also to continue growing in the greenhouse throughout the year.

“Theoretically, the same stuff (can grow) in winter,” she said, adding she can climate control the greenhouse to suit her needs.

The options are limitless with high-powered fans, the option to open up the greenhouse to natural light and air, and several furnaces that can be used to heat the facility in the winter.

Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information, go to facebook.com/OrganicworksGreenhouseandGarden, go to the website or call 618-340-5781.

Keeney is thankful she does not have a job outside of running her business, because “there’s a lot of labor involved.”


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Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years. email:sean@republictimes.net