Oklahoma is home to a wide range of agriculture businesses that make a solid economic impact on the economies of rural communities and urban centers across the state. For Tim and Faye Taggart, agriculture is in their blood. They were both raised on traditional farms in Oklahoma. Their own ventures in agriculture, however, have taken a different route.
Tim will tell you, “Everything that’s happened in my life has sort of come about by accident.”
But, the story of their greenhouse business and Taggart’s garden center just south of Hennessey on Highway 81 is a tale of hard work, determination and a strong desire to make a positive impact on their community and northwest Oklahoma.
“Almost 50 years ago, my wife and I and three kids moved back to the farm and I knew I was not going to make a living farming.” Tim recalled. “We were exploring our options and I had a friend in Guthrie in the greenhouse business so we went to visit. After that first visit, Faye and I decided to go for it.” Tim said.
“If we wanted to have a greenhouse business that first year, we had one week to get our seeds in the ground and one more week to get a greenhouse built to transplant into. So, we immediately got to work.” He added.
Sometimes in life, the decision to go for it is the most difficult part of the journey. That was not the case for the Taggarts. The friend who had gotten them into the business had agreed to sell their product that first year, but when it came time to sell he backed out.
Tim recalled, “I had no choice but to get to work and make it happen. I put a camper shell on my pickup and started out to sell my plants. I’d never sold a plant, or anything else, in my life.”
There is no quit in Tim Taggart. The family’s newfound passion for plants and the greenhouse business continued to grow to the point that they had fourteen large greenhouses, fourteen employees and were wholesaling plants to major retailers across the country.
“We had always had a dream of having a garden center, and as the wholesale business began to slow, we had an opportunity to buy this farm and we opened the garden center doors in 1989.” Tim said.
The Taggart’s garden center boasts a broad assortment of indoor and outdoor plants, trees, flowers and garden vegetables. A unique, bright-red cactus catches the eye just inside the greenhouse doors. Those cactus plants brought the Taggarts a lot of attention in their wholesaling days.
A member of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau communications team came to visit and do a story on their greenhouse business and upon seeing a whole greenhouse full of the Japanese cactus plants, the story took off. It garnered so much attention, the Taggarts ended up with a two-page spread in the Chicago Tribune. And their business continued to grow.
“At one point we had around 200,000 cactus plants growing in our greenhouses. They thought it was such a big deal, that a wheat farmer in Hennessey, Oklahoma, was growing cactus. We still grow wheat, and we still raise cattle.” Tim noted. “But, this has really been our passion.”
“Faye loves the business.” Tim said. “She studies the plants and on rare days off she enjoys visiting other garden centers to see new varieties and get new ideas.”
“The great thing about this business is that everyone is willing to share their secrets. I don’t think there is any other business that the people are so willing to go out of their way to help you.” Faye concluded.
“As far as I know, we are the only ones still in operation in Oklahoma that started out in the greenhouse business cold turkey.” Tim said. “When agriculture is in your blood, you find a way to make it work.”