16 Acres Garden Center marks 50th anniversary
Three generations of Bordenuks in front of Sixteen Acres Garden Center. From left to right: Sierra Bordenuk, granddaughter of John and Joan Bordenuk; John and Joan Bordenuk, founders; and Debra Bordenuk-Trimboli, daughter of John and Joan and floral and gift shop manager.|
Reminder Publications submitted photo
By Chris Maza
SPRINGFIELD Not long ago, Judy Bordenuk, business manager at Sixteen Acres Garden Center, and her father, John, the company's founder, took a trip to the Ukraine to get in touch with the family's roots.
"It made me understand my father more," she said. "They farm the land over there. Everyone gets an acre and that's how they live. They live off the land. A man that I met had the same hands as my father big, strong thick hands."
It was with those kinds of hands that John Bordenuk built Sixteen Acres Garden Center on Wilbraham Road, which started as a roadside stand and throughout the past 50 years of business has boomed into a one-stop shopping location for annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, vegetables, lawn and garden supplies, floral arrangements and gifts.
John's parents came to America from the Ukraine through Canada, bought the land in what has become a vibrant Sixteen Acres neighborhood and settled into the large white house that still stands on the grounds to this day. The Bordenuks grew and sold gladiolas for special occasions and funeral arrangements.
Years later, John followed in his parents' footsteps. Trained with knowledge gained from graduating with a degree in horticulture at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts, John and his wife Joan founded the small business in 1962.
"He actually bought a greenhouse from someone else, disassembled it and rebuilt it right here," Judy said. "He was actually out of work at the time and Mom said, 'This is the perfect time for you to go into business on your own.'"
Since then, the business has expanded exponentially with a full-service store, several greenhouses, and an expansive nursery as his children have taken on substantial roles in the company. While Judy manages the financial and human resource aspects of the company, her brother Steve oversees the day-to-day operations as the general manager and Debra manages the floral and gift shop. Now retired, John still takes an active role in the daily responsibilities in the care of the plants.
The fact that the business has remained family-centric is one of the key reasons the business has been able to thrive and expand for 50 years, Judy said.
"There are all sorts of nieces and nephews who work here now and there's a lot of them," she said with a smile. "It's three generations now."
Keeping with the tradition passed down from their grandparents, the Bordenuk family and the staff at Sixteen Acres Garden Center continue to grow a great deal of the products they sell, including 10,000 geraniums a year, impatiens, fuchsias and petunias, which remain among the best-selling items. The company also grows its own poinsettias at Christmas time.
"We grow a lot of our own plants and I think that is a good part of why we're still here," Judy said. "Many of the managers that we have have a degree in horticulture and they care about the plants. I think that we can say that we're experts."
The garden center staff is also very proud of the way its nursery has grown over the years, providing a wide variety of trees and shrubs.
"It's not just the run of the mill stuff," Judy said. "We have hard to find varieties."
The company has grown so far as to have its own landscape design service, offering customers the opportunity to implement the design themselves or have it done for them by the company's landscaping crew.
With all of the different aspects of lawn, garden and home care that the company caters to, it makes for a 365-day a year undertaking.
"It's hard work," Judy said. "These are living things we're dealing with that need constant care. We can't just take a week off and forget about it."
But most of all, she said it's local customers residents and businesses alike that have allowed the company to be as successful as it's been, Judy said.
"I think we're making a lot of people happy," she said. "Most of the customers that come in here, they're feeding their happy hobby. It's an uplifting place to come and I think people have come to appreciate that. We have a lot of very loyal customers who come back every year for every season and they're like family, too. We know them by first name."
To officially welcome the spring planting season and recognize the company's 50 years in business, Sixteen Acres Garden Center will host a Spring Fling Weekend on April 21 and 22. Several representatives from vendors will be on hand to answer questions about products, while special promotions and raffles will take place throughout the weekend. Free hot dogs, popcorn and lemonade will also be provided from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"We're also hoping to put up a billboard with a lot of old pictures to celebrate the past," Judy added.
In addition to the Spring Fling, periodic specials will take place.
"We want to have as many opportunities to thank our customers for their loyal service as possible," Judy said. "Without them, we wouldn't still be here."