CHIPPEWA FALLS — Klinger Farm Market, located north of Chippewa Falls, is growing in more ways than one.
First, there’s the addition to the main greenhouse, an expansion about the size of five traditional hoop houses, according to Troy Amelse, director. That’s on top of what was already there, bringing their largest greenhouse in at three-quarters of an acre.
With their other smaller greenhouses, Klinger Farm Market has about 1½ acres under plastic, Amelse said.
Then there’s the massive undertaking of growing thousands of varieties of plants to fill the greenhouse, an effort that’s ready to get underway as the market prepares for an influx of plants and people as warmer weather starts to edge this way.
Amelse, the fifth generation to work at the family business, said he planned to turn on the greenhouses later this month, turning them into balmy, 70-degree growth zones. Plants will begin filling the space shortly after.
Changes to the size and number of greenhouses occurred after snowstorms in 2010 and last year knocked down previously standing ones. Rebuilding focused on centralizing the space, Amelse said.
Having the large main greenhouse with the new addition, which is equivalent to the space of 10 traditional hoop house greenhouses, is “logistically easier” than it being divided into smaller spaces, Amelse said.
The space can share heaters, something especially useful if one of the several in the greenhouse goes out, and water, electricity, temperature and ventilation can be controlled better. Amelse also said he can better manage the numerous employees bound to be in the space — at the seasonal peak, up to 50 employees are needed.
The centralized space is also set to be more convenient for shoppers, as the bulk of the plants will now be in one space, with the additional smaller greenhouses reserved mostly for overflow, Amelse said.
Within months, the market will be filled with thousands of hanging baskets, 1,000 varieties of perennials, 60 types of tomatoes and plenty more options to fill gardens and transform landscapes. Every plant is grown at the market.
“We try to tailor to everybody who wants something specific,” Amelse said. “That’s what kind of makes us special.”
Creating a shopping experience is important, Amelse said. Setting an atmosphere and offering products tailored to different generations with different values keeps customers coming back.
“People will come, and you’ll see a car in the parking lot, and then at five o’clock, you’ll be like, ‘Wow, is that car here because they’re still shopping or because it’s broke down or something?’” Amelse said. “And a lot of times it’s because they’re still shopping. We are trying to make it an experience.”
Amelse said that while they still want to provide the best product they can, if shopping was just about the product, shoppers could often just go on Amazon. Competition has grown over the years, and Klinger Farm Market has made the push to set themselves apart from the other options available.
“You have to make it an experience of shopping ... coming and taking it in and seeing all the different colors and all the different varieties,” he said.
Garden art, including decorative pots, sculptures, fountains and more, has taken off in the past couple of decades as well, Amelse said, noting that some people may prefer it to a more short-lived flower or as a long-lasting memorial or statement piece.
A large market produce garden also allows Klinger Farm Market to grow and sell dozens of varieties of fresh produce, such as sweet corn, when it’s in season.
In addition to the plant portion of the business, Klinger Farm Market, which remains open year-round, sells some fruits and vegetables as well as an assortment of other convenience store and supermarket goods.
Among the vegetables sold in the store portion are potatoes, which Klinger Farm Market grows, stores and sells 11 months out of the year, Amelse said.
The Klinger farm has been in operation since 1904, when it started as a dairy operation. The greenhouse business, which started more so as a hobby, didn’t really start until 1980, Amelse said.
Three generations of Klinger family descendants are still involved in the operation today.
The farm and market have been treated more separately the last couple of years, Amelse said. The farm itself is 800 acres, while the market runs on 10 acres plus an additional 50 that is rented from the farm.
Klinger Farm Market’s annual open house is scheduled for April 24-26.