Founded in 2017 by Caleb and Melanie Van Wingerden, SunBlest Gardens is a true family business. With 22 brothers and sisters, Caleb comes from a large family of growers spanning across the nation, from Colorado to Maryland, and has been growing since a very young age. His family originated from Holland and has been in the greenhouse industry for over 75 years.
“As a child, I worked after school in my family’s greenhouses, as did all of my brothers and sisters. I started as an assistant grower at just 16 years old,” Caleb said. “Many of my siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins all work in the industry as well. I have always dreamed of my children growing up just like I did, and Northwest Florida had all the qualities to facilitate that vision.”
SunBlest Gardens has eight acres of covered greenhouse, ten additional acres of field grown crops, and is currently expanding. SunBlest Gardens grows over 100 different varieties of plants, grasses, and flowers. They supply plants to over 100 stores across the Southeast and sell more than five million plants per year to brands like Costco and Ace Hardware.
The Second Annual Spring Open House will give the public an opportunity to visit the greenhouses to shop from a variety of tropicals, annuals, and perennials at wholesale prices. There will also be plenty of children’s activities including face painting, a scavenger hunt, and a petting zoo from Redemptive Love Farm and Rescue. Local food trucks and vendors will be set up offering food and refreshments for purchase, including Fired Up Pizza, The Frother’s Daughter, The Juice Box, Kona Ice, Pineappetite, Pineapples AC2, Seasonal Scoops, and Tally Sips and Sweets. There will also be additional shopping opportunities showcasing local art, gifts, clothing, and jewelry from Baum Road Studios, MiCo Candles, Mollywood Designs, Olde Fields Clothing Co., and Solikall.
A portion of all proceeds raised will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of The Big Bend, an organization that makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 5 through 18, in communities across the big bend region. During the open house, SunBlest Gardens will also host a canned food drive for Good News Outreach, a faith-based organization dedicated to relieving physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual isolation to those in the community including homeless, families, and seniors. Guests are encouraged to bring canned food items to be entered into a raffle for two plants.
To learn more about SunBlest Gardens and upcoming events, follow their Instagram and Facebook pages, or visit https://sunblestgardens.com.
“We hope this event becomes a family tradition for our visitors,” Caleb said. “We want our guests to experience the passion and hard work that goes into growing the plants they typically can only purchase at their favorite retail markets. “