Post by Dennis Washington from Alabama NewsCenter
People between Talladega and Anniston have a new option for buying plants and fresh vegetables.
The Rainbow Garden Center opened its doors last week at Rainbow Omega in Eastaboga. A ribbon-cutting Friday was followed by a grand opening festival Saturday.
“Rainbow Omega has always had greenhouses and growing houses ever since I came to work here 11 years ago, but we never had a way to market that product other than in a wholesale fashion,” said Mike Carpenter, director of Development for Rainbow Omega. “We’d always dreamed of having our own retail center, growing and selling the product, and marketing what the residents are involved with every day. It’s been a long time coming.”
Rainbow Omega was founded in 1991 to give adults with developmental disabilities a sheltered, Christian community in which to live. Capable residents work in the greenhouses and the garden center.
“When someone comes here to purchase what we have, that money is going directly back into the program to help support the needs of the special individuals that live here,” Carpenter said.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and ALFA helped fund construction of the garden center, which will also help local business owners.
“In working with ALFA and the USDA, we wanted to incorporate other folks in the rural communities around us who are in the same process of wanting to find a way to retail their product,” Carpenter said. “We’re using that model to help grow the Eastaboga community.”
During spring and summer, the garden center will mostly feature annuals, including ferns, geraniums and bedding plants. The fall months will include thousands of mums, pansies and snapdragons, and the winter months will include up to 7,000 poinsettias for sale. Carpenter said the smaller size of their operation gives Rainbow Omega more flexibility than larger nurseries.
“We wanted to do something more specified to the needs of the people that we live around,” Carpenter said. “A lot of times we can grow things other large nurseries can’t and be specific to a customer’s needs.”
Carpenter hopes to add more products to the garden center, especially items created in Alabama.
“I like that because you’re supporting the community,” Carpenter said.
During the busy spring and summer, Carpenter said the garden center will be open six days a week: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. During the fall, the garden center will be closed on Mondays.