Broccolo Garden Center
“Community involvement and setting the standards for environmental sustainability and cultural diversity in the green industry is our pride and success.”
Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care was founded in 1990; the garden center was purchased in 2011.
What is your garden center known for, and how did your history shape this?
Natives, friendly service and displays.
Broccolo is a small garden center that was originally started to support the landscape design, installation and maintenance services. Our specialty is native plants and, due to the lack of availability, we had to grow most of our perennials.
Merchandising of plants is with meandering gardens intermixed with trees and shrubs appropriate for shade, sun and rain gardens. Perennials are separated into displays of shade or sunny native perennials suitable for wet or dry environments. Non-invasive, non-native plants are also included, especially with deer-resistant qualities.
The garden center is located on an old dairy farm with a renovated barn built in 1900; the farmhouse office was built in the early 1900s. We love to host small workshops and offer tours or rentals for charitable groups.
What is the Broccolo Entrepreneurship program?
Community involvement and setting the standards for environmental sustainability and cultural diversity in the green industry is our pride and success. The lack of labor in our industry has always been a challenge and, as a woman- owned business, I personally recruited women into this field through women organizations promoting careers in non-traditional occupations.
The more I worked in community projects, the more interactions with diverse cultures gave us the opportunity to expand our recruiting efforts to people of color. This gave opportunities for lower-income earners to seek a career that they could make a living wage. The more role models, the easier it is to recruit.
As we grew, we needed to rely on subcontractors to help us through the busy season. We teach small owner operators who mow and snowplow to expand their own business offerings, yet get paid for spring and fall cleanups, mulching and summer pruning during their seasons when lawns require less mowing. This has become very successful, and many of our subcontractors are now reducing their low-pay mowing services to expand into higher-skilled and higher-pay services.
What is your Goodness Grows program?
Goodness Grows became a way to filter and qualify the many requests for donations. We decided we would not donate any more services without a commitment from the organization asking for handouts. This has created
an ongoing relationship with organizations that are aligned with our goals of diversity in the environment and diversity in the workforce through promoting careers in the green industry.
When they participate in selling baskets or hosting a day of purchase at our garden center, they ultimately make more than getting a donation, with little effort, and they are now vested in both of our successes. We often match what they purchase for big projects such as pocket parks in the city.
Meet the rest of the winners:
Thank you to this year’s Lawn & Garden Retailer Innovator Award sponsors: