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Wheat’s Greenhouse to remain closed for year

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EDWARDS — Wheat’s Greenhouse, one of St. Lawrence County’s best known nurseries, will not operate this year.

“We’re really happy everyone supported us for 26 years. It wasn’t sales. Sales were fantastic,” said owner William H. Wheat. “I’m sorry we had to do it because a lot of people were disappointed. It was really a family issue. Whether we will ever do it again, I don’t know.”

Wheat’s grew its own stock of vegetables, annuals and perennials in a series of greenhouses on Campbell Road.

It typically would open at the beginning of May and was sold out by the beginning of June, although the growing, cleanup and maintenance season took most of the year.

The dynamics of the family business started to change with the death in 2008 of Mr. Wheat’s father, Dr. Kenneth R. Wheat, a retired dentist who was the greenhouse fix-it man.

Mr. Wheat’s mother, Bernice, who had also assisted in the greenhouses, died in December.

Mr. Wheat took on renovating his mother’s house and is also trying to complete his own.

The greenhouses were too much for Mr. Wheat and his wife, Danielle L., who have other jobs, and their 7- and 9-year-old daughters to handle.

Other family members were otherwise engaged.

“If we had to hire help, it wouldn’t be affordable. Once you open the doors, it was seven days a week,” he said. “We decided to take a year off and regroup.”

The Wheats were innovators in using waste vegetable oil to heat the greenhouses, along with solar panels. They tried a windmill but discontinued it in favor of more solar panels.

“A lot of it would bring the cost down, but costs would creep up in other areas,” Mr. Wheat said.

The future could include reopening or growing vegetables hydroponically for sale to large local institutions.

“There’s a demand. We’re going to keep all the equipment,” Mr. Wheat said. “We don’t want to leave the buildings there and not use them.”

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