One of Alliance’s hidden gems is nestled just 10 minutes east of town, holding a nearly overwhelming amount of surprise and wonder when customers walk in.
Niconna’s Greenhouse is a vast greenhouse offering plenty of newcomers and seasoned gardeners an experience they won’t forget from succulents to vegetables to perennials to herbs and more.
It is open annually typically from May 1 to the beginning of July based on supply and demand.
The process for Nick and Donna Kozak begins in December when they begin to plant certain vegetation.
Flowers and herbs start in February and March.
Currently, they have six part time staff as well as themselves as full time operators.
The greenhouse was born out of necessity and passion as Donna and her husband Nick had four boys to raise. It started as a huge garden with Donna constantly buying produce from somewhere else.
Realizing the need for their own greenhouse, Donna convinced Nick to build her a small 12’ by 12’ greenhouse in 1988.
“Each year it seemed like we had a few extras left all the time and so I would give them away and someone said ‘Why are you giving it away? Why don’t you sell them?’ and then we bought those greenhouses from Chuck Ward in Alliance.”
By the early 90’s they worked the greenhouse up while holding down other jobs.
Anything left by the end of the season was planted for the following year.
They had a Strawberry U-Pick patch during this time when their children were home to help as well as a thousand hills of potatoes.
Each year, she felt the greenhouse was getting busier so their focus shifted.
In 2000, three of the Forester Greenhouses in Stettler were up for sale so the couple bought them and stationed them in the yard, expanding their dream.
“With the help of friends and family we were able to move them here,” said Donna.
After some time, two of the greenhouses were sold while the third was given to a neighbour who built a barn with it by adding tin instead of plastic to its roofing.
Neighbours, students and their four boys have been a large part of their success as they would and continue to help the Kozaks.
Cucumbers and tomatoes are a new feature they supply with the addition of their largest greenhouse which they operate in, keeping customers coming back and wanting more.
The greenhouse has become a segway into retirement for the pair as Donna used to be involved with the healthcare system and Nick with the county.
“So I always say I’m only working six months instead of a full year,” laughed Donna.
Now that she has this time to really dive into gardening, she’s found solace in her work.
“When I was at work I was the supervisor and the boss. I had to make sure everybody did everything right. I could come out here and it was my time like it was my tranquillity. I could come out to the greenhouse and everything is blooming and everyone is happy and I don’t have to worry about discipline,” said Donna.
A best seller has been a petunia because of its easy-to-maintain nature as well as marigolds, and the sudden rise in succulents.
They try their best to get the most popular plants to meet the needs of their customers as well as steadfast options.
“We try to be very helpful. Customer service is something we really strive towards is to make sure we can help people find something that’s suitable,” said Donna.
One of the reasons Niccona’s Greenhouse stands out is the size and how spread out all the tables are. It allows customers the opportunity to enjoy all the greenhouse has to offer.
Some of their most popular visitors are seniors as the large aisle give easy access to be near the plants.