GTPulse: Plant Masters Provides Greenhouse for Upcoming Craft Markets and Classes
Rachel VanThomme and her cat Zen provided warm greetings and company for me the other day while I was visiting Plant Masters in Suttons Bay.
The 20-year-old has found passion and skill for working with plants of all kinds, to no one’s surprise. The green thumb shared by members of her family is something she possesses too, and though the business is old, she’s using some of her youthful creativity to turn the plant nursery into a community hub for classes, craft, and artisan markets this spring and summer.
The bright green storefront is only a tiny portion of Plant Masters. They grow all of their own plants and have several large greenhouses to do so. This abundance of space, and the pandemic, is what prompted Rachel’s gears to start turning.
“We have a ton of space and I have a lot of friends who own small local businesses, and I know a lot of them are really struggling. Especially those who survive off of farmers’ markets and don’t have a physical building. It came up that I could host classes here,” she said.
Rachel reached out to friends and the community to see if anyone would be interested in teaching classes in the greenhouse this summer. She’s open to all sorts of classes, anything from DIY to crafts to hidden hobbies or talents, and so far has received a rave response.
“So far we have mandala art, crochet and knitting, photography, belly dancing, yoga, all kinds of people have already signed up to teach something. I’m really excited!”
On top of the classes, Plant Masters will also host a farmers’ market in the greenhouse. Classes will be held every Sunday throughout the months of June and July, with one class being held at 4 p.m. and another at 6 p.m.
“Any local vendors who do craft fairs, farmers markets, if you make birthday cards in your basement, whatever it is, you’re allowed to set up some sort of table. We have shelter from the weather and so much space. We also have a large following on Facebook, so it’s a good way for us to get attention and bring more people in, but it helps my friends and other local artists, creators and teachers get their names out there.”
Plant Masters was started by Rachel’s great grandfather in the 1930s, downstate. In 1980 the family moved to Suttons Bay where they opened up shop.
“Right now, my grandmother and her husband own Plant Masters. Me, my aunt, and my uncle manage.”
Rachel grew up in the shop learning about plants, bugs and other plant life fascinations. At 14 years old she began working part-time at Plant Masters. While she considered venturing off into other careers, she ultimately came to find that being at the nursery was where she felt most content, and most herself. She took some time to see if working at the greenhouse full time was a good fit for her, and hasn’t looked back since. As the youngest member of the staff, she’s always thinking of ways to have fun with promoting the business and getting folks excited about plants.
“I like to make videos on our social media on how to do things. I’ve always been ready to talk to anybody about plants, I enjoy it.”
The classes and market are just another way that Rachel is having fun with the family business. She’s still accepting class ideas and vendors. As far as the class pricing, it will be up to the teacher. Some will have a fee, but so far, many are volunteer-based and will be free.
“Our doors are open to anyone. Even if you’re not struggling, or you don’t teach for a career, maybe you have a hidden talent you want to share with the community. I think this is a really great opportunity to bring that forward. Whether they’re interested in teaching or selling something, we’re just looking for ways to support the community and have fun.”
To teach a class or sell your items at Plant Masters this spring or summer, email Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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