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Homestead Gardens Cultivates A Sense Of Community

Dylan Roche
View Bio
October 4, 2017

Although Homestead Gardens started as a small backyard business in the early 1970s, the company has grown to be considered one of the top garden destinations in the country, but no matter how big it got, its founder Don Riddle never lost sight of his roots.

“It started with him,” said Pam Finlay, the community relations and special events manager of Homestead Gardens and a longtime friend of the Riddle family. “When he passed away, there were people from local PTSAs at his funeral saying he never said no. He recognized right away that you give back to the community because he lived here, he worked here.”

Since its founder’s passing in 2011, Homestead Gardens has continued to flourish under the leadership of his son, Brian Riddle. “Our community involvement is something we hold dear and a core tenant of the company,” he said. “We’re always looking for ways to engage with the community and enhance the community that has been so generous to us.”

Some might think of Homestead Gardens as a nursery — it’s the largest enclosed garden center in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., metropolitan area — but it’s also part specialty retailer and part event venue.

The business also serves as a hub of information and outreach. Between its main headquarters in Davidsonville and its second location in Severna Park, Homestead Gardens employs approximately 250 people. “What sets us apart, first and foremost, is our expertise in our phenomenal team of passionate garden experts and industry leaders,” Riddle said.

That expertise isn’t contained merely inside the walls of the garden centers. Homestead’s team participates actively in sustainability causes, such as watershed restoration and agricultural initiatives, and works with the Board of Education, local 4H Club chapters, the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program and other groups to sustain the industry and help children find a career path in agriculture.

Homestead Gardens holds many events to raise money for good causes. Its semiannual Girls Night Out events, held in May and November at both stores, benefit local nonprofit groups, as does the annual fall festival, now in its 33rd year. The 2017 fall festival will be held every weekend from September 23 through October 29 at the Davidsonville location.

When it isn’t holding its own events, Homestead opens its doors and offers free space, décor, props, utilities and staff to emerging nonprofits to hold their own fundraisers, saving them rental costs and allowing them to use more of the money raised to fulfill their mission, programs and services.

“To date, we’ve touched over 300 nonprofits, giving tens of thousands of dollars back to the community,” Finlay said of Homestead’s charitable work.

Riddle doesn’t have any plans to stop finding new and innovative ways for Homestead Gardens to expand its reach. One plan Riddle has for the company is to increase the scope of its service side by launching a residential design and landscape firm. “We’re never satisfied with the playbook,” he said. “We’re always looking for ways to make the experience better and different for those who have patronized us for so many years.”

Homestead Gardens is located at 743 West Central Avenue in Davidsonville and 522 Ritchie Highway in Severna Park. Retail hours are 9:00am to 6:00pm seven days a week. For more information, visit www.homesteadgardens.com.




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