Not far off the Pawnee Road at the Junction of New City Randy Belville established his business, New City Greenhouse. He said they tried calling it something else, but everyone kept calling it the business at New City, so he finally just went with it, and it has stuck.
“We have evolved,” Randy said about the business that has expanded over the years. “We have vegetable and fruit produce from July 4th to Halloween. We start with sweet corn, then watermelon, peaches, then pumpkins and mums.”
Mums are a big deal at New City Greenhouse. “We have 15,000 mums and we ship all over,” Randy said.
While the mums are grown right there at the rural Pawnee location, the production is grown by New City Green House partners. “We have Kilburn cantaloupes and watermelon, we trade the mums, it works out nice. We have sweet corn from Tallulah and Salisbury, and homemade canned goods from Kathy’s Kitchen in Virginia, Illinois where she makes jams, jellies, pickles, and beets.”
In the fall the greenhouse is a beehive of apple production, with a sweet smell thrown in! “We make our own Carmel apples. We use fancy Granny Smith apples and double dip each one then we roll them in toasted Macadamia nuts. Some are rolled in chopped pecans, others in chopped peanuts, and others in M & M’s. We go through about 1,000 apples in two months.”
Fall is also pumpkin time. “We have a lot of pumpkins and gourds. We get them from Beardstown or Mechanicsburg,” Randy added.
Besides the run of the mill produce they will also get in special items like the Donut Saturn Peaches they recently had onsite.
The customer base is from all over the central Illinois area. “We draw from as far away as Decatur.”
While the New City Greenhouse offers produce from summer into the fall, what they really are Randy said, “Is a greenhouse with 300,000 pots of annuals. We grow 8,000 hanging baskets, and 12,000 gallons of perennials, trees, and shrubs!”
Besides growing mums, they also grow beautiful hibiscus as well!
They are a provider for many places in the area. They serve plants for the City of Springfield, the Illinois State Fair, the Bank of Springfield, the County Building, and municipal buildings.
They also sell plants of course to local citizens as well. In fact, on their website page their motto is “Bringing beauty to your home one plant at a time.”
This busy greenhouse offers local employment to youth in the area especially after a recent successful ad campaign. They went from hiring three employees to 15. “This is good for local kids. I try to pull help from the local geographic areas.”
When asked how Randy got started doing this, he said that he himself has been doing this since he was a kid. “There was a community service agent that was usually in charge of 4H in Rushville where I grew up. I’d tag along with him.”
Randy started entering plants at the County fair and winning, then he moved up to competing at the Illinois State Fair and won at that event. He said when other kids were setting up lemonade stands, “I was digging up mom’s day lilies to sell.”
He went on to get a degree in Horticulture, then worked at a horticulture business in Taylorville until it went out of business. “This place was fallow; it had been a green house. Sabatini’s Greenhouse was here, and they had a truck farm years ago. That’s why I added produce, people would stop and say I bought produce here years ago.”
Seeing the former greenhouse, Randy bought the business and has been going strong ever since. “We opened in 2009 or 2010,” he recalled.
Randy is a family man. He is married to wife Jenel who has been a nurse since 1983. The two have three children, two girls and a boy who are grown with families of their own.
Randy has expansion plans. He is adding a new steel building where they currently sell their wares. They have poured the concrete and the building should arrive sometime this fall. They are also doing some rearranging with buildings out back.
New City Greenhouse is a place where agritourism takes place. “The Farm Bureau stops here on their tour day.”
Ag in the classroom also has stops sometimes and classroom parents where they try to welcome them with lemonade or something special Randy added. They are also engaged with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts education. “This year we worked with them on “make and take”, we proved the soil, and all they needed to make a spiller/thriller/filler. We did two of these this year,” Randy added.
The New City Greenhouse is open seven days a week 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday from the first weekend in March until after Halloween. For more information log onto their website at Home | New City Greenhouse or check out their Facebook page at (4) New City Greenhouse | Facebook. They put updates of what is happening on their Facebook page! The phone number where they can be reached is (217) 801-5127.
The New City Greenhouse is also easily accessible from I-55 and Route 29!