Green Thumb Garden Center Helps to Grown Ferndale’s Downtown

By, Crystal A. Proxmire


Councilperson Kate Baker likes worms.  At least the kind that make all-natural compost at her mother’s house.  That’s why she was excited to see the Worm Factory 360 display at Green Thumb Garden Center when she went for the grand opening celebration on March 27th.  “We’ve got one of these in the basement at my mom’s house and the kids love it,” Baker said.  “You do it in layers.  The worms go on the bottom.  Everyday when they get done eating the kids take their green table scraps – grapes, apple peels, that kind of thing – and they feed the worms.  It’s their little ritual.  The worms eat their way upwards and they leave their casing and waste behind, which makes this really good, all natural, super-concentrated fertilizer.  There’s a spigot at the bottom and this ‘worm juice’ comes out and they use it in the garden.  It’s so fun and helps the little girls not to be afraid of the worms.”


Baker and about a dozen supporters from the community – including Mayor Craig Covey and members from the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) and Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce – came to welcome Green Thumb to the neighborhood.


Green Thumb Garden Center, located at 22963 Woodward Ave, is one of 13 new stores opening in Ferndale this spring.  Next to them is another fairly new addition to the Ferndale family, Rainy Day Hobbies.  The Green Thumb ribbon-cutting was one of two scheduled that day, with Designer Resale Boutique opening up an hour later at 22442 Woodward.


“It’s not even that we have so many businesses opening up, it’s that we have such a variety,” said Chamber Director Jennifer Roosenberg, who is responsible for figuring out a way to get all the ribbon-cuttings in.  “We’re doing them in waves, and trying to have a few at a time to make it more manageable.  And so people can see the variety of things Ferndale has.”


Kris Lieber, owner of Green Thumb, said he couldn’t imagine opening anywhere but Ferndale.  Lieber grew up in Toledo, OH and also lived in Rochester, NY before moving to metro Detroit in 2002.  He is a clinical engineering technician by trade who used to consider gardening just a pastime.  “I started having some health problems and I found that gardening was really relaxing and helpful.  It went from being my hobby, to my passion, to my obsession.”


Leiber specializes in all natural and organic plant nutrition.  He has also hired an expert with a degree in environmental science specializing in soil composting.  The dirt guy, Jonathan Pavely, works at Green Thumb three days a week.  They are planning to do classes to teach people how to get the most from their garden.


Green Thumb carries supplies for indoor and outdoor gardens, including hydroponic equipment, rain barrels, high end soil and aggregates, soil conditioners to help with sandy soil, fertilizers, food, meters for testing ph, basics like seeds, pots and shovels and more.  They also are welcome to suggestions from their customers.  “One thing that we don’t carry yet,” he says regretfully, “are the composting worms.  You can get them through mail order now and hopefully bait shops will start to carry them in the near future.”