Glen and Crystal Risse were married in Anchorage in January 1982. The newlyweds soon headed north to Fairbanks to help Glen’s parents, Lee and Greta, owners of the 24-year-old Risse Greenhouse. In those days there were six greenhouses where vegetables and bedding plants were grown and “Triple R Brand” potting soil had just been created. At Lee’s insistence, Glen and Crystal attended DuPage Horticultural School in West Chicago, Illinois. Glen and Crystal were committed to learning all that they could about growing the best quality plants, with the hopes of someday buying the family business. They returned home in the fall of 1983 with degrees in horticulture, in time to help with the first crop of Poinsettias, witness the bagging of the first commercially available “Triple R Brand” potting soil and settle in to learn all they could absorb from Lee and Greta.
The years passed while Glen and Crystal added three daughters to their family. Lee and Greta built the business and passed on, leaving Risse Greenhouse in the capable hands of the Risse children. In 2014, Glen and Crystal’s dream of being the next generation to perpetuate the family owned and operated business was finally realized.
“It has been a long, happy journey to this outcome; the culmination of many years of hard work, education, and the realization of hopes and dreams,” reflect both Risses.
Glen and Crystal, along with their crew at Risse Greenhouse, operate 18 commercial-sized greenhouses with 40,000 square feet of indoor growing space that supports over 600 varieties of plants and a full-service retail garden center; they maintain production of “Triple R Brand” and “Natural Organic” potting soils and even continue to grow those delicious red, ripe tomatoes as Lee and Greta originally intended. They also sell produce from the garden at the Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market.
Glen and Crystal comment: “It is our hope to continue the traditions set by Lee and Greta, of offering the best quality, at a fair price. We are committed to educating, teaching and learning. Families are our focus, children are our passion.”
It is their dream to someday pass on the business to their children and grandchildren.
Risse Greenhouse has been in operation for almost 60 years. The story goes that Lee Risse, unsatisfied with the tomatoes he could buy locally, decided to build a greenhouse and grow his own. Before their first winter in Alaska, he and his new bride, Greta, had built what was to become Greenhouse #1. It was bigger than a small family needed, but Lee assured Greta that they would use the extra space to grow additional plants and tomatoes for sale to offset some of the construction expenses. They sold vegetable and flower starts, tomatoes, and cucumbers to friends and acquaintances the next spring. Greenhouse #2 followed in 1959. Greenhouse #3 in 1962. You get the idea.
Lee and Greta have since passed on, but the business still thrives under the next Risse generation.