Plant-it Earth Greenhouse

Karin Eller had a vision. She dreamed of a business focused on her love of gardening and on growing heirloom tomatoes and peppers. However, not only was the concept a new and unfamiliar one with most potential customers, but her family’s land was miles away from the most traveled roads.

Initially, Karin visited the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center (SBDC) when she was just thinking of going to the bank for funding to initiate the venture, Plant-it Earth Greenhouse. The SBDC reviewed her draft plan along with the information she had gathered and helped add the financial projections that the banks needed to review the proposal.

One of the main questions on her mind was that if she started a business on a new concept and built it miles away from the beaten path, would the customers come? It turns out the answer is an unequivocal yes. Armed with a clear vision, an understanding of the market need, a quality product, and the promise of a special experience, with a lot of hard work thrown in, Karin was well on her way to success.

Once she was established, the SBDC arranged an introduction to a reporter for a Pittsburgh paper. After he visited and wrote up the experience, customers began to come from a much wider geographic scope. 

Now, customers come not only from the immediate surroundings of Indiana County, but from all over Western Pennsylvania. They come to choose from about 60 varieties of tomato plants and 40 varieties of peppers. Simply visiting the grounds with several greenhouses, outdoor shade gardens, and the collection of critters, and strolling along a path that parallels a mountain stream isn't too bad either. Generally, people come to enjoy a trip to the country, have a delightful shopping experience, and obtain quality plants for their gardens.

The facility has grown from one small greenhouse to a complex of greenhouses that expands in square footage and attractions with each passing year. The business has become an integral part of the county and has introduced numerous people to the advantages of heirloom plants.

Plant-it Earth Greenhouse started small, but has clearly grown into a thriving business and become an integral part of the county’s life.  Karin was nominated for the 2014 EverGreen Award for Local Conservancy by three different parties, including the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and won for her work and involvement in preserving Indiana County's nature.  The EverGreen Award is an award given to individuals, groups, or businesses who demonstrate preservation and protection of the environment and natural resources through grassroots environmental leadership in multiple areas.