NEW BEDFORD — Remember those old wooden greenhouses at the Lawrence Family Greenhouses at 679 Hathaway Road?
Mike Tremblay remembers playing hide and seek in them as a boy. Now, he is the third generation to sit at the helm of the business started in 1941 by his great-grandfather Antone Lawrence.
The property back then was a sprawling 13 acres. Then, in the early ’60s, Interstate 195 came barreling through gobbling up all but one acre of the farm.
When Antone Lawrence died in 1981, his grandson George Lawrence and his wife, Christine, bought the family homestead and business, running it until 2018 when he retired.
That’s when Lawrence Family Greenhouse went on the open market.
Tremblay bought the property from his grandfather, George Lawrence, in 2018 and admitted he didn’t have a clue about running a greenhouse.
Skip ahead to present day and not only are Tremblay and his wife, Dawn, going full speed ahead, they’ve taken the business into the high-tech world.
The rattling wooden greenhouses are all gone – replaced by state-of-the-art steel and polycarbonate structures with retractable shades. Perennials, annuals, vegetable plants fill the greenhouses and the front yard grounds.
Business is blossoming indeed.
Watering all those plants is done these days thanks to a couple of taps to Tremblay’s smartphone.
The watering system is composed of special tables on which plants are set. The tables have gridline inlets that fill and allow seedlings to be watered from underneath.
Tremblay uses an app on his smartphone to control how long the water bubbles up onto the tables. Whatever the plants don’t soak up goes to a 1,000-gallon holding tank and is recirculated back into the watering system.
The system was purchased thanks to a grant Tremblay secured from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Bill and Alice Smith, from Dartmouth, were getting some plants on Thursday afternoon and said they have been long-time customers of the greenhouse. They said they were glad the business stayed opened and was kept in the family.
Tremblay said the business “never missed a season” and will now have a fall season this year with chrysanthemums, pumpkins, wreaths, and Christmas trees.
Standard-Times digital producer Linda Roy can be reached at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter at @LindaRoy_SCT. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times.