Making a Difference: Oak Hill greenhouse rises to the occasion for a successful and safe 2020 season

OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – Today begins our new series: Making A Difference Mondays.

We have teamed up with the Fayette County Health Department, the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce and New River Health to recognize local businesses who have gone and above and beyond to keep the community safe during these challenging times.

To kick us off, the first nomination is Morris Greenhouses.

It is a local business that has been in Oak Hill since the ’60s, and since Sue and Rick Morris took over the family business 25 years ago, they say this has been a greenhouse season unlike any other.

“There’s never been a season like this,” Morris said. “This season has been fraught with challenges: Trying to operate safe, trying to keep your customers safe, trying to accommodate people who didn’t feel safe to shop because their immune systems are comprised or if they’re just elderly like we are.”

Their season began in April, so they had some time to prepare and strategize watching what the virus was doing locally and globally.

Then, about a week before opening day, it was go time.

They began putting up signs encouraging masks and social distancing, putting up plexiglass and putting out sanitizer and disinfectant.

“We just sat down and said, ‘Well, what do we want to accomplish here?’ We want to be safe. We want our customers to be safe,” Morris said. “We felt like the main way to keep our customers safe was to encourage everyone to wear a mask, and if they couldn’t wear a mask, then they had to social distance.”

They did not just stop there.

The greenhouse also offered curbside services and hours for at-risk populations, even putting out tables for customers, so not everyone had to come to the register.

Although this season caused for some out-of-the-box thinking, Morris says one plus side was they saw more people of all ages take an interest in plants and gardening as they sold more vegetable plants than ever.

At the end of the day, you might not think about a small town greenhouse being a difference maker in a global pandemic, but Morris says they went into every day thinking if they could keep just one person from getting sick, they could make an impact.

“I can’t change what’s going on in the world but I can have an impact on my little circle,” Morris said. “And we just need to be nice to each other during this challenging time. Everybody’s really on high alert. They’re stressed. They’re worried about kids going back to school. They’re worried about finances and the best thing we can do is just try to take care of each other.”

Morris Greenhouses’ season concluded on Friday.

If you would like to nominate a business in Fayette County for Make A Difference Mondays, click here. 

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.