Cheryl Mayr still likes getting her hands in the dirt. That hasn’t changed.
However, she is altering the way Country Bloomers Greenhouse does business by selling her plants and flowers at local farmer’s markets and discontinuing retail hours at its location on Portage Road in the Village of Windsor and the community of Token Creek.
Mayr is ready for the new challenge.
“I always said, ‘If I’m not excited about the next season, I’m done,’” said Mayr.
Health problems have forced Mayr, who wears braces on her ankles, to scale back. The last five years she’s said she’s had trouble with her feet. She’s had fusion surgeries on her ankles and had joints replaced due to progressive degeneration.
“I’m in pain a lot, but I just keep moving,” said Mayr, who still waters her plants eight hours a day. In an average day, Mayr tends to them 12-14 hours.
An AgrAbility project, completed about five years ago, has helped her keep doing what she loves. Such programs allow farmers to continue farming even with disabilities. She heard about it through a neighbor whose sister works for AgrAbility.
“It took a whole year to get it in place,” said Mayr. “I thank God for them.”
Through AgrAbility, Mayr got a wagon that allows her to go out into her fields with water for her flowers. She’s able to cut them and haul everything back to the greenhouse area. She’s even equipped her cab with a snow plow to clear snow in the winter.
Thankful for the chance to continue her gardening, Mayr has spoken at various events in support of AgrAbility. Additionally, she’s formed a strong relationship with 4-H organizations and had kids out to the greenhouse to help out.
“All the young kids we’ve had, I thought they’ve all been real good,” said Mayr. “We’ve had good kids come out and help. I hope they’ve learned at least one thing to take away. That’s always the goal.”
Mayr stopped selling her wares at the greenhouse this year. Instead, she goes to three farmer’s markets, including the one in DeForest that takes place on Tuesdays. She also sets up shop at the Prairie Lakes Farmer’s Market in Sun Prairie on Thursdays and the Westside Community Market in Madison on Saturdays.
Mayr has been a fixture at the Westside Community Market since it opened. She started going to the DeForest market last year.
Going to the markets hasn’t been easy. Her brother-in-law, daughter and niece help Mayr set up, which is the most difficult part, according to Mayr.
Mayr opened Country Bloomers Greenhouse in 1993. She also was a hairdresser for 24 years, and there was some overlap between the two jobs.
It all started with a hog stable.
“My husband said if you can take all the wood off it, I’ll make you a greenhouse,” said Mayr.
Mayr was canning and juicing vegetables. When people started stopping by the greenhouse, Mayr’s husband, Jerry, told her she should put items up for sale. Over time, they kept adding on to the business until they were operating seven greenhouses.
At any one time over the years, the business has had 10-12 employees.
For the greenhouse, the year starts Feb. 1, when seeding takes place, and goes through the end of October. Nowadays, Mayr only grows in two greenhouses on the property. She became licensed to grow industrial hemp. She’s done with that now, having sold off the hemp to others.
“It’s a lot of work, a lot of watching it, but I like to do different things,” said Mayr.
Going to the farmer’s markets, Mayr brings annuals, perennials, herbs, potted plants, hanging baskets and pots with flowers and vegetables. Just recently, she started bringing tomatoes and pumpkins and gourds will be coming.
Mayr is known for offering different and unusual items. Her customers come from as far away as Green Bay and Appleton. They’ve all had to adjust to Mayr’s new business model.
“I’ve been serving a lot of the same customers for 25 years,” said Mayr. “Most of the customers that have wanted to find me have found me.”