Garden Offerings includes flora, fauna and family

Date: 
07/11/2010
MotherDaughter

Nancy and Heidi recall how business began

"How did this business start?  That's funny.  My daughter Heidi went off to school and I guess I was bothering her too much. She told me to get a life," explains Nancy Kapelak of Garden Offerings. Specializing in custom bouquets in four Chicago Farmers Markets plus Oak Park, this Huntley, IL, based flowers and fauna vendor is now a family united.

Realizing that her  "empty" nest syndrome was alienating her daughter, Nancy enrolled in a growing school in Baltimore more than a dozen years ago.  Despite being deathly afraid of heights and flying, she boarded a plane that would change the direction of her life and her family's.

"We have about 25 acres, so when I returned from Baltimore, I started the business and began coming to the market in Wicker Park/Bucktown. Heidi had moved into Chicago and I asked her to help me. She said that she would do it...once! Now she has a daughter and 5 acres and the whole family is involved in the business. Heidi's husband Troy Ong and my son Joseph all help with the markets. Though my husband has a full time job, he helps too."

CustomerWithHeidi

Heidi wraps a special selection for a customer

"What's it like working with my mother? We have our moments, like anyone else in the workplace....like two chefs in the kitchen.  But, there is nothing better than working with your family, having your own business...it is very rewarding," explains Heidi. "My seven year old daughter Samantha is working with us now too.  She picks flowers and puts them in sleeves. She loves working with the family.

I think living outside of box and doing what you enjoy is important. Life is too short.  Education is wonderful, we all have that, but doing something you really truly enjoy...that is wonderful."

"This business is a hobby gone wild," chuckles Nancy.  By planting on about half their land at a time, continually rotating their crops and adding to their offerings, their goal is to be as sustainable with their finances as they are with their plantings.

NancyCreatesBouquets

Nancy assembles some mixed bouquets

"We are an organic and sustainable grower. Our first offerings of the year are tulips...some 16,000 of them.  We plant them in late September, early October. It is iffy because you don't know when the frost will come. Using 10 foot tall plastic hoop houses, we extend the growing year by using the sun's energy to create a heated environment so plants begin growing early.  We now offer shrubs and berries for arrangements too.

At markets we specialize in creating custom bouquets. Many customers special order bouquets before the market.  Brides seem to particularly like peonies.  We grow about 4,000. The brides come and pick up their bouquets and have pictures taken...it is so cute!," Nancy says smiling, obviously reliving those images.

You can meet the Garden Offerings team at the Wicker Park Farmers Market on Sundays and enjoy their fresh offerings. They generally have two types of lilies each week. One is fragrant and the other not for those who have allergies.

 

More Wicker Park Farmers Market Vendors: Iron Creek, Peasants' Plot, Spencers.

 

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