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 Gleason’s best-kept secret started out as a hobby fifty-three years ago and has since grown into the ultimate backyard business.  Mr. Edgar Floyd, one of Gleason’s dearest citizens, has been cultivating things green for some time now, and by green things, this isn’t just reserved for plants but for Gleason’s youngsters too!

Mr. Floyd started his career as Gleason’s longest-working Agriculture teacher in the fall of 1958. In this role he has touched the lives of countless Gleason School students.  The principal at the time Mr. Floyd began teaching in Gleason was Mr. J. T. Moore and the beginning of Mr. Floyd’s hobby-turned-business grew out of his friendship with Mr. Moore.

Principal Moore had been growing sweet potatoes since 1952 and decided to start growing other plants to pot and sell. This planted a seed of interest in Mr. Floyd, who lived across the street from Mr. Moore, and he decided to follow suit.

It was in 1962 when Mr. Floyd and Mr. Moore began pulling plants up, potting them, and storing them in the garage before selling them. In order to beat the cold and start early, they began building cold frames with two 100-watt light bulbs to warm the fragile plants, be it tomatoes, peppers or some sweet potatoes. The first 10x12 greenhouse was erected in 1965, and Mr. Floyd said they doubled each year calling it “moonlighting.” Mr. Moore would double his space in his greenhouse, and Mr. Floyd would match that in his own greenhouse.

In 1978, Mr. Floyd moved next door to Mr. Moore, and they began their wholesaling business with seventeen to twenty customers. Using two pick-up trucks, they hauled and delivered their potted plants after work. Their routes typically ran  between 230-270 miles a trip.  Arriving home at midnight was considered a short trip!

Mr. Moore retired in 1980. During the next year Mr. Floyd expanded the retail portion of the business, with the business growing by word of mouth. The wholesale side of the business continued, seeing its longest wholesaling route to date. This route covered 358 miles in the mid-80s, including trips to Lexington, Henderson, Waynesboro, Linden, Savannah, Dickson, and Centerville, to name a few of the cities and towns that were privileged enough to see Mr. Floyd’s pickup truck pulling in bearing all those plants grown right here in Gleason. If plants didn’t sell, his goods were on consignment, so he would make a return trip to pick up those that were unsold.

Mr. Floyd retired from teaching in 1996 and committed himself fully to his business. Over the years there began to be fewer and fewer wholesale customers, although today he still has two wholesale customers in Camden and Scott’s Hill who call and pick out what they need. He is now starting to cut back on traveling and the size of his business.

At the present time, his business encompasses six greenhouses and two open beds. Mr. Floyd is proud of the selection they have offered over the years which still includes a full lineup: twelve variants of tomatoes, eight different types of peppers including habanero, a few azaleas every now and then, hanging baskets of petunias and bedding plants, some hostas and shrubs, and all the vegetables you could ever want to get your hands on – squash, cucumbers, watermelons, and cantaloupes.

 Behind every hardworking man is a hardworking woman, and this is true with Mrs. Peggy Floyd who helps her husband in the business. The Floyd’s have two daughters, Charlotte and Sandra, who have also helped over the years and do, to this day, when possible.

Numerous junior high and high school students have worked under Mr. Floyd during the summer, and for some it’s a generational thing,  as in the case of James Terrell and his three children, Elizabeth, Emily, and Ethan, who have all worked for Mr. Floyd while in high school or college. Two Gleason students, one past and one present, Ethan Terrell and Alex Arnold are working for Mr. Floyd this summer 2015.

Floyd’s Greenhouse may be less well known to some outside of Gleason, but Mr. Edgar Floyd and his plants are cherished by those in Gleason who know him to be a true pillar of the community, who not only has his hands in the soil but in the community he loves and supports. (Story by Ben Rollins)

 

 

 

 

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