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The History of Fairview Garden Center

4 min read | Apr 18, 2024 | Fairview News 

Founded and led by Jo Ann Dewar, the garden center has been a cherished part of the community since 1974. Now, at 93 years young, Jo Ann is still in the greenhouse every day, nurturing plants and sharing her wisdom with customers. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious, inspiring everyone who meets her. Her presence is a source of strength and continuity for the family business, and she remains the heart and soul of Fairview.

This year we are celebrating an incredible milestone—50 years in business.  Here’s our story:

Jo Ann and her late husband, Tom Dewar, purchased the 18-acre property in 1960, drawn to its potential and natural beauty. Tom had just completed his service as an air traffic controller at RDU and his time in the Coast Guard. Meanwhile, Jo Ann balanced a myriad of roles—mother of two (soon to be four), farm manager, and visionary entrepreneur. On their newly acquired land, they established a diverse farm with pigs, cows, chickens, and crops such as hay, melons, and strawberries. It was the strawberries that provided their first taste of success, as Jo Ann pioneered the “pick-your-own” model that would soon become a popular spring activity for the surrounding community.



As the family grew, so did Jo Ann’s ambitions. In the late 1960s, she saw an opportunity to supplement the family’s income and decided to venture into the world of canine care by opening Fairview Kennel. For several years, Jo Ann balanced her responsibilities, expertly managing the kennel while raising her children. But her heart always yearned for the vibrant world of plants and flowers.

Jo Ann Propagating

In 1973, Tom built Jo Ann her first greenhouse. It was a modest structure compared to the sprawling gardens of today, but it marked a pivotal moment for Fairview Garden Center. Jo Ann’s green thumb worked wonders as she cultivated geraniums, tomatoes, peppers, poinsettias, and other plants from cuttings she collected from neighbors. With a keen eye for opportunity, Jo Ann struck a deal with local grocery stores like Winn Dixie and Kerr Drug, selling her plants and produce on consignment. As demand grew, so did Fairview’s reputation as a wholesale supplier.  The business grew in this fashion until the mid ‘80s.

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The next few decades brought transformative change to the garden center. As the surrounding area experienced rapid population growth, Fairview’s focus shifted to meet the needs of a burgeoning retail market. Neighbors and passers-by began stopping by, seeking plants and gardening supplies for their homes and landscapes. In response, the family expanded the business, opening a retail division in 1988 and stocking a wide array of gardening tools, hardware, and plant varieties.

susan joann golf cart crew

By 1998, the family decided to pivot their focus entirely toward retail, save for their wholesale poinsettia sales for fundraisers. This shift necessitated a significant renovation to improve the shopping experience for their growing customer base. Through perseverance and patience, Fairview Garden Center unveiled its new layout in 2004, complete with spacious concrete pathways that replaced the once muddy gravel trails.

Jo Ann Poinsettias2   Jo Ann

Photo of Fairview Greenhouses and Garden Center buildingstaff web

Today, Fairview Garden Center stands as a sanctuary for plant lovers and a cherished part of the community. Jo Ann’s enduring passion is evident in every corner of the garden center, from the carefully curated plants to the warm and welcoming atmosphere. Her story is one of resilience, dedication, and a deep love for the land. 

As we 50 years of nurturing beauty and community, we invite you to join us in this milestone. With an eye toward the future and a heart rooted in tradition, we welcome ideas and suggestions to continue growing and flourishing for many more decades to come.

Happy Planting!

Brad Rollins