The Village Green Greenhouse is celebrating its 37th year of business. Mark and Annette Larareo reopened their doors for the season on Good Friday in late March, selling plants, everything related to growing plants that a customer could wish for and ice cream in their second business located at the right of the store.

(To the left of the greenhouse, Local Burger rents space from them so people can buy something a little more substantial.)

“People were asking when we would open,” said Annette. Customers were so eager to buy plants and hungry for ice cream that they opened two weeks early, before their usual starting date of April 15.

The Larareos had been busy planting inside their three greenhouses since the end of February, with an eye to selling 700,000 to 800,000 individual starter plants that they grew from seedlings, cuttings and roots. They grow their rose bushes from roots from Weeks Roses out of California.

They sell vegetables, herbs, gardening trowels, pots, gardening gloves, fertilizer and cushioned knee pads so their customers can stay out gardening as long as they wish once they get home.

“We have everything,” said Mark. “People have been buying lots of soil to get their garden beds ready.

“Right now, people are going for pansies and violas. They are excited because it’s spring,” he said. They are seeing a much larger call for perennials than in other years.

There is a party atmosphere as people feast their eyes on all the vibrant purple, pink and rose colors of the flowers. The line at the cash register was 10 deep as people brought up their selections of pansies, roses and other treasures.

They will remain open until the end of October, close briefly, then reopen at Thanksgiving for the holiday season, selling Christmas trees, greenery, garlands, kissing balls and cemetery boxes wrapped up with red ribbon. “We sell a lot of them,” said Mark.

Their greenhouses are heated by propane. Mark’s favorite has metal framework dating from the late 1800s, 25 by 75 feet in size, since modernized with polycarbonate windows, offering 2,000 square feet of growing space. Their total growing space is roughly 10,000 square feet.

Annette and Mark Larareo of Village Green Greenhouse in Haydenville, MA, with Annette’s Great Dane Kai. Photo by Laura Rodley

Mark grew up amongst the greenhouses in Haydenville, MA, as the business was started by his parents, Joe and Jean Larareo. His parents always took the time to get to know their customers, and Mark and Annette follow that legacy. When she got older, his mother sat in the front of the store, soaking in the sun and visiting with customers until she passed in 2016.

His father passed in January 2022. Every day, something will occur that sparks a memory of one of the many phrases that his father used to say.

A perfectionist, Joe came in every day and worked with the geraniums, trimming their leaves and getting them just right. He used to say, “When I die, don’t ever put a geranium on my grave because I’ve seen so many of them, I never want to see another one.”

“And so I never will,” promised Mark with a smile.

His father would find a comfortable seat and people would come sit with him to pass the time in front of the greenhouse.

Annette has been working alongside Mark in the greenhouses since they married, and the couple will celebrate their 34th anniversary this September.

What does Mark like best about working in the greenhouses?

“All of it – can’t wait to get to work every morning. The plants, ice cream and barbecue. People choose to come here. It’s not like going to the grocery store, where they have to go shopping. It’s a happy occasion, a very positive property, and I appreciate that people really like to be here,” he said.

People can indulge in all their tastes at Village Green. They will wait for the ice cream window to open (and not just with children). Everyone can come away with huge soft serve ice cream cones in their hands and big smiles on their faces, their flowers already packed away in their cars.

by Laura Rodley