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Published September 08, 2008, 12:00 AM

Seasonal sensation

Produce fresh from the farm
The aroma of fresh vegetables lingers in the air at PLANTS Plus in south Fargo. The business is like an indoor farmers market that sells a variety of locally grown, seasonal products.

By: Tracy Frank, The Forum

The aroma of fresh vegetables lingers in the air at PLANTS Plus in south Fargo. The business is like an indoor farmers market that sells a variety of locally grown, seasonal products.

Michelle Boyer opened the store at 3343 S. University Drive in mid-October 2006.

She offers farm-fresh produce, perennials and houseplants, and herbs and locally made jams and jellies.

PLANTS Plus has quantity supplies of canning products such as cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and beets available for bulk orders.

In the fall, Boyer offers pumpkins, straw bales and cornstalks.

In early winter, she sells Christmas trees, wreaths, treetops, and centerpieces. After Christmas, she closes the building and takes phone orders for firewood.

In the spring and summer, she sells flowers of all kinds.

“I love nature and being outdoors,” Boyer said. “It’s very rewarding for me to be here working with plants.”

Q: What made you decide to open PLANTS Plus?

A: I’ve always had a passion for flowers, and I love planting.

When I finished my 25-year career in nursing, I was interested in owning my own business.

I loved nursing, but the opportunity came up to open PLANTS Plus.

What reactions have you gotten from your customers?

I have been very happy with the customer response.

It really makes my day to see them coming back.

Their positive feedback is wonderful. A lot of the customers have said they are happy to have found this south Fargo location.

It’s so much more convenient for them than having to travel farther to get the same products at other vendors, and I’m here seven days a week and my products are in air-conditioned comfort, with no wasps.

Is the produce pretty popular?

Yes, very. We have all the home-grown goodies, from apples to zucchini.

Where do you get your produce?

From several different local farmers.

How many farmers do you work with?

About a dozen.

My main farmer supplies the majority of my product.

He has provided me with connections to other farmers to make all of the products available.

Are the flowers pretty much done now?

I have perennials yet that are 10 percent off.

This is the time to plant perennials now, in September.

You have to get it done before the danger of the frost. You want your plants to get some good rooting action going on. We’re wrapping up with perennials now, and then we’ll move right into the pumpkins.

The greenhouse will be filled with a wide variety of pumpkins.

When do you start selling Christmas trees?

After Thanksgiving. We sell produce straight through fall.

What is the benefit of buying your produce here over going to a grocery store?

We’re supporting our local farmers. The taste is far better. Customers tell us that the taste is better than what they can get in the stores.

What do you like about running your business?

I love the people, the customers. Everyone is so nice and happy to get such wholesome, locally grown veggies.

How many employees do you have?

My mother (Elaine Boyer) is my only employee. My mother has been with me here every day from the get-go. I’d be lost without her. She’s my right arm and my best friend.

What was the decision to open your own business like?

It wasn’t a difficult decision. It’s something that I had wanted to achieve all my adult life.

What challenges have you faced?

Mother Nature – she rules.

Another challenge was putting up the greenhouse, which my father and my son did last spring. We had never put up a greenhouse before.

We’re very happy with it, though. It’s vented and temperature-controlled.

What are your future goals?

I would like to establish a Web site and increase my variety of flowers, perennials and other seasonal inventory.

What types of flowers do you sell?

I sell a wide variety of annuals and perennials.

There are hundreds and hundreds of different types of flowers that we seed and plant.

How do you feel business has been going?

I’m happy to say that business has been steadily picking up. The customers really are fun. It’s kind of a homey feeling here being able to visit and share recipes. I’ve had customers that have brought in their pickle recipes and their bread recipes.

They bring me back zucchini bread with the zucchini they bought here.

Business profile

- What: PLANTS Plus

- Owner: Michelle Boyer

- Fall hours: 10 a.m.

to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

- Where: 3343 S. University Drive, Fargo

- Info: (701) 235-4004

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526