Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.
Glen and I had a wonderful time in Washington DC on July 6th. Everyone was courteous and made us feel comfortable and at ease. We were also thrilled that we got to meet President Obama and talk with him. Secretary Vilsack also impressed us with his knowledge of agricultural rules. All in all it was exciting to know that the Department of Agriculture wanted our input. We felt honored to be invited to the White House.
We have always said that hard work pays off. We have been a family-run business for over thirty years, with four generations at our greenhouse: Elma (first owners), Glen (Elma’s son), Benjamin (Glen’s son), and Carson (Ben’s five year old son). It started with our mother and father, Earl and Elma Young, growing and selling vegetables. Then we began to sell flowers. The first time we ever bought hanging baskets to sell, we bought eight fuchsias. We thought we had bought too many hangers and were going to get stuck with them. Now, after thirty years, we sell four hundred fuchsia hangers and over twenty thousand other hangers. Our greenhouses cover a total of two acres.
In the fall of 2009, a tornado came and tore through our greenhouses, leaving only four standing. The four left standing had to be torn down because the tornado shifted the bars and they were not safe. We were all on vacation the day the tornado came through. When we came back, we took a deep breath and knew we had to rebuild, and that we had to rebuild before the ground froze, because metal poles had to be put into the ground for the frames.
We were amazed at the amount of people who came and offered their time to help us. We had wholesale clients who came to tear down the old greenhouses. Customers brought food for us to eat. Friends, customers, vendors, pastors and the community all came and offered their time and efforts. We also had our family, who gave many hours to see the greenhouses put back together. They did get put back together, and better than ever. Now we have more sufficient greenhouses to work with. All the hours paid off. Family and friends paid off. We could not have done what we did in six months if we did not have the help we had from everyone. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you come together.
With the help of the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Loan Program which provides assistance to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to natural disasters, the Glen and Jacqueline Young were able to pay off the major bills incurred after a devastating tornado.