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Flower Fields Shop Nellie Gardner Horticulturist SpencerportThe Spencerport farm, The “Stettner Homestead” was the first farm in this area, followed by several others on Gillett Rd. The soil is a sandy loam, the edge of an ancient lakebed, and produces abundant crops if it is kept watered and fertilized. Across the road was an extensive, “modern” greenhouse in the early 1900’s that produced vegetable plants as well as cut flowers. Taking advantage of the sand for potting soil, and the abundant water supply from deep springs, remnants of the old lake, sweet peas, cala lilies, snapdragons, and mums were grown here for cut flowers and delivered to Rochester daily to be sold at Vicks on East Avenue.

Charles Stettner grew cut flowers including glads and China asters on my farm in the early 1900’s. An old photo shows rows of cut flowers to the north of the farm and Charles Stettner in the field holding a large bunch of glads with his arm in a cast. Flower Seed was grown here on the farm for Harris Seed which operated just down the road on Buffalo road until the 1990’s. Several women, in their 90’s now, who worked on my farm pollinating petunias with a paint brush still remember the seed growing days. Petunia plants for seed harvesting were hung in the greenhouse across the road to dry. Flower seed production was centered in this area until WWll. Due to the shipping advantage of the Erie Canal, the horticulture industry flourished here until new frontiers were opened up to the west.

The farm also had an apple orchard, mostly Northern Spy, a variety developed in Bloomfield NY and grown for its excellent taste and keeping quality.

As were many of the farms then, it was diversified and cherries and grapes were grown here, chickens were raised for eggs and meat.

The farm legacy lives on with remnants of the trees and vines ounce grown here, as well as the old barn and flower pots unearthed on the site. When I bought the farm in 2009, it was completely overgrown and the house was in shambles. It needed a roof, windows, and complete repair of fallen in ceilings and walls. The land needed clearing of alder, wild grape vines and brush. It has been put back to its original condition, better for insulation and new windows, but the essential character is unchanged and most of the materials used in the renovation were used and in keeping with the era of the house. The gas stove in the kitchen is a 1920’s era Garland manufactured by the Michigan stove Co., and the sink an old cast iron enameled sink with the backsplash and drain board built in.

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