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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Hank Richardson, a director of the Cherokee County Farmers Federation, began Dixie Green, Inc., with one greenhouse and a camper shell on a pickup truck. Today, his poinsettias brighten the holidays at Disney World.

-- Photo by Kyle Hayes

Name:
Hank Richardson

Age:
56

Residence:
Centre

Alfa Member Since:
1974

Current Office or Board:
Richardson is a Cherokee County Farmers Federation board member, chairman of the Cherokee County Farmers Federation's Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod Committee, a member of the State Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod Committee and a member of the State Water Resource Planning Committee.

Other Activities:
Richardson is fire chief of the Ellisville Volunteer Fire Department, treasurer of the Cherokee County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments and also a member of the county fire association honor guard.

My Family:
Richardson and his wife, Shelia, have been married 30 years. They have two sons, John (29) and Daniel (25).

My Faith:
Hank is Sunday school director and teacher at Providence Baptist Church, the same church his parents and grandparents attended.

My Farm:
Hank and his two brothers, Jerry and Harlan, farm 180 acres of soybeans, and its greenhouse operation, Dixie Green, Inc., has 12 acres of greenhouses and a four-acre outdoor pad.

"My brother, Harlan, had a friend who talked us into starting a greenhouse business in 1974," recalls Hank. "We started with one 28-foot by 96-foot house, a camper on a pickup truck and went from store to store. We grew from there to our current operation. We began as Richardson Greenhouse until 1979 when we merged with another grower to form Dixie Green Inc. We now deliver plants with four tractor-trailers and three 24-foot delivery vans. We grow a variety of potted and basket plants, foliage and blooming, as well as perennial grasses and flowering plants."

What I Like About Agriculture:
Being outside, growing plants and the freedom of not being stuck behind a desk all day.

The Biggest Challenge Facing Agriculture:
Cost vs. Return. The profit margins are very slim.

I'm Proud Of:
My family. My wife is office manager at WEIS Radio, both of my sons are volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians and my dad, Excell, was a director on the Cherokee County Farmers Federation board for 50 years.

You May Not Know:
"Our operation is a major supplier of poinsettias to Disney World, and our plants are also sold regionally to large chain stores," said Hank. "We've been selling to Disney World for about 20 years. Poinsettias grown down in Florida, don't hold up as well as what we can produce up here. Disney tries to buy local, and we're one of the very few out-of-state vendors. Disney World uses the poinsettias in flower beds, as topiaries, stacked up like Christmas trees ... they use them in all kinds of ways."

-- Compiled by Darryal Ray


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