June 1, 2016 // 4:33 PM

Meet Gloria Stevens

Written by Trish Lauer

If you go visit the aeroponic greenhouse, there’s a good chance you may meet Gloria Stevens.
Gloria, the new greenhouse coordinator, grew up on 26 acres of land that her father would farm in his spare time. Armed with curiosity and a love of nature from her father, and a strong independent work ethic from her mother, Gloria would find her way to gardening, though a love for it didn’t happen right away.

As a child, Gloria wanted to play, not garden. When she got married with some land of her own, however, things began to change. On her property in Kingston, NY, was a bank of land that was difficult to mow and she wanted to do something with it. So, over the years, Gloria began to take this space and turn it into a large flower bed filled with perennials that had a different color blooming each month. In addition to that flower bed, she had six smaller ones and over 1,000 daffodils that had multiplied from just one clump given to her by a neighbor 30 years prior.

Eight years ago, Gloria came to East Earl to be closer to her family. After moving from New York, where she had been a head nurse in a long-term care facility for 18 years, Gloria couldn’t just retire. To keep busy, she volunteers at the Landis Valley Heirloom Seed Project – something she has done for the past three years – as coordinator for growing around 14,000 plants for the project’s annual sale. She has also volunteered with Poole Forge, Habitat for Humanity and Penn State’s trial gardens, where she has put in many hours. If that doesn’t sound busy enough, Gloria is also a Master Gardener with her own business, including aeroponic and hydroponic systems in her basement.

It seems almost perfect, then, that Gloria found her way to the Garden Spot Communities’ aeroponic greenhouse. Her husband had seen a posting for the coordinator position and commented on the aeroponics being what Gloria was doing in their basement. Though he couldn’t believe she would want to take another task on, he knew the job would be a great fit, and Gloria agrees. “Instead of one tower, I now have 200 to play with!”

In the greenhouse, Gloria is chief cook and bottle washer. Beyond that, she also wears many of the other hats that come with her job. “I jokingly said to one of the workmen on-site that now I can add master plumber to my resume,” Gloria laughs.

Though she’s something of a jack-of-all-trades, Gloria is thankful for her co-workers. “Our cooks are great fun to work with and the grounds crew have been super helpful.” She also looks forward to having volunteers come by the greenhouse to join in on the good time. “A lot of the things in the greenhouse are trial and error, so there is always a lot going on,” she says. “I could not think of a better job . . .  I enjoy a challenge, and this was it.”