Brad & Deenie Owen, Owners
Brad has had a life - long love of plants – growing and identification. Raised on a small farm, he has had gardens since he was old enough to hold a hoe, so the greenhouse is a dream come true! Brad earned a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Alberta and has held academic, research and consulting jobs until retiring and becoming a full time environmental consultant, specializing in stream and wetland evaluations. He has also run several small construction and rental businesses. Brad’s interests include gardening and farming, hiking, antique automobile restoration, drawing and painting.
Deenie comes from the medical field; most recently working in a pain management practice in Pennsylvania as a trigger point and therapeutic massage therapist. She home-schooled our two daughters and for many years was a member and president of the County Organic Food Co-op. Additionally, she was the business manager for the family farm and real estate businesses. Deenie is an avid reader and enjoys gardening, cooking, biking and hiking with Brad and Dobby, as well as checking out the great local music, art and theatre venues. This season at the greenhouse, Deenie will have more spring in her step with her new knees!
For 37 years Brad and his wife Deenie owned and farmed a 320 acre property in Pennsylvania until they “retired” to North Carolina several years ago. The farm produced numerous organic crops of plants and animals and fed the Owen family well! They successfully bred and sold horses, llamas, and hay crops and gave away tons of vegetables. Their goals for Painters Greenhouse are to increase the production of native plants, vegetable starts and water garden plants, while trying to make the business as “green” as possible – all this while still maintaining the same high quality plants and friendly environment that has made the business a local icon for so long.
Jerome & Dana Stenger, Managers
Dana, the older Owen daughter, earned a BA from Ohio Wesleyan in Environmental Studies and Politics and Government, and she studied raptor ecology and taught biology in the MS program at Boise State University. Dana spent some time in college studying botany and working in the university greenhouse, and she spent a summer working in a local greenhouse business in PA. She traveled to Honduras and Ecuador, where she helped teach rural communities about sustainable agriculture and lead birding and medicinal plant ecotourism hikes. Dana's hobbies include gardening, cooking, reading and nature photography.
Jerome, a native of Cincinnati, graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University as well, majoring in English and Journalism, and he spent several years working as a librarian. Jerome had the fortune of growing up next door to a small greenhouse business, where he had his first job. He has also enjoyed studying botany in college and spent several summers working in golf course landscaping and maintenance. If he has any free time, Jerome enjoys playing his guitars, writing and listening to music, and working on his perpetual novel, perfecting one sentence per year. Dana was the first girl Jerome spoke to in college, but he didn't ask her out until they had graduated. They were finally married in Old Fort in August of 2012.
Jerome's duties at the greenhouse range from building and maintenance, to cataloguing and inspecting all the plants and helping to run the retail end of the business. Dana spends much of her time managing office and retail duties with Deenie and running the website/advertising end of things.They are both enjoying the challenges of running the greenhouse and hope to introduce ideas that appeal to the younger generation of gardeners. Jerome & Dana live in Old Fort with their cats, Vladimir and Puddin.
Emily Sampson, Head Grower
Emily is a “veteran” at Painters Greenhouse, having worked alongside previous owner Stephen Painter before the Owens took over. She graduated from UNCA with a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, with extensive course work in botany. Her previous experience includes working as a horticulturist at a local Native Plant Nursery, at N.C. State Research Station studying plant diseases, as a research student at the Botanical Gardens of Asheville and as a Horticulture Intern at UNCA, planting and maintaining landscape beds.
Emily has a strong interest in native plants and is working on increasing the variety of natives offered at Painters as well as educating the public on the benefits associated with native gardening. The Owen family feels very fortunate to have her leading production at Painters. In her spare time, Emily enjoys hiking, camping and hugging trees. She resides in Black Mountain with her daughter Calia, and Zodi, one of Painters’ resident canines.
Jessy Piercy, Grower
Jessy quickly transitioned from part to full-time at Painters in 2011, and she now assists in all areas of production. She graduated from Western Carolina University with a B.S. in Natural Resource Management, with a concentration in Forestry. Additionally, she attended the Organic Growers School at Blue Ridge Community College and is a N.C. Certified Plant Professional.
As a student, she worked with the horticulture staff in all areas of plant propagation and landscape establishment and care. For five years she worked as a Gardener with Snow Creek Nursery & Landscaping, serving her residential clients in all phases of garden management. All of us here at Painters are pleased that she could join our team, sharing her expertise and strong work ethic. In her spare time, Jessy enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband, Josh, and their two canine children Elsy and Maggy. They reside in the Old Fort area.
Joe Cole, 'Joe-of-all-Trades'
Joe has worked at Painters since he was a kid. Over the years, he has gained quite a familiarity with how the greenhouse is run, and helps with everything from maintenance to growing. Most importantly, the locals know him as the go-to man for getting those hard-to-reach hanging ferns and the expert in fitting all their plants into any size vehicle! Joe also lives in Old Fort.
Our production team works throughout much of the year, propagating and planting the vast majority of our plants. Pictured above are Elvira, Carolina, Elizabeth and Maria. We are lucky to have such a diligent, hard-working team!
Vanessa Owen, 'Visiting' Production & Retail Assistant
Vanessa, the younger Owen daughter, majored in dance at Wright State University, and now works seasonally as a professional contemporary dancer & choreographer. Whenever she can take a break from performing, teaching dance & working in a greenhouse in Richmond, she enjoys helping out at Painters. Vanessa has been dedicated to her pursuit of dance and the arts since age four, but she has also grown up with a love of nature and science. She is currently starting a dance company with the goal of using the arts to inspire, educate, and motivate communities toward a "greener" lifestyle.
Dobby & Zodi – Painters Greenhouse Canine Security Force
Dobby Owen, a rescued Bat Cave Rd. orphan of mixed Jack Russell/Miniature Pinscher background, reports faithfully to work most days to “assist” production and retail staff and greet all customers. She feels very protective of her greenhouse, so we ask that you leave your own dogs at home. When she isn’t too tired on her days off as Professional Painters Greeter, she visits with her best friend, Zodi.
Zodi Sampson, a Shiba Inu mix, often accompanies Emily to work on production days, when we are closed for retail. You may occasionally see him sharing greeting and security duties with Dobby, but his need for freedom (Dobby is kept leashed) typically means he isn’t around during business hours.
Dobby and Zodi are frequently visited and supervised by Skyy Painter, who has had many years of greenhouse guarding experience and tries to keep them both in line.
Seasonal Staff & Volunteers