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Ashcombe Farm & Greenhouses: Growing to Please Since 1962


906 W. Grantham Rd.

Mechanicsburg, PA


Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that approximately 20% of new businesses fail during their first two years, 45% during their first five years, and 65% during their first ten years. In addition, only 25% of new companies succeed at staying open for 15 years or more. So, it’s an unbelievable accomplishment when a local business celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Today, Ashcombe Farm & Greenhouses is known throughout Cumberland Valley as an independent garden center and destination shopping experience where guests can find quality products and friendly customer service. But the humble beginnings of the current operation date back to 1962, when Glenn and Mary Ellen Gross added several small greenhouses to their roadside vegetable stand.

For several years, the Grosses – assisted by a couple of helpers plus seasonal workers – worked hard to perform many of the chores required by their operation. As the years passed, the vegetable farm doubled in size from 25 acres to 50 acres, and produce from outside sources was added.

The business underwent a significant expansion in the early 1970s despite a fire that destroyed several buildings in 1974. Garden supplies and dried flowers were added to the thriving plant and produce business. Later, a gift shop was added, followed by a small bakery in 1983. On May 22, 1989, a second, more devastating fire destroyed the retail store. After almost 30 years in business, the Grosses could have called it quits. However, dedicated employees kept the business running at a reduced scale from the parking lot while a new facility was designed and built. The new shopping complex opened in March 1990 with enlarged spaces for each department, allowing Ashcombe to offer more products and services.

Recently, staff from the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) talked to Mr. Gross as he reflected on 60 years of challenges and successes. Throughout that time, he has followed a simple guiding principle imparted to him by his mother, “Find a need and fill it.” Ashcombe found its niche and continues to follow through on what is most needed rather than trying to do too much. Throughout the years, Mr. Gross has been impressed by the abilities of those employees who chose to be part of the organization. He believes it’s essential to recognize and appreciate the “talents that contributed to the diversity of the business.” He notes that the current president of Ashcombe started working there when she was 12, picking strawberries.

As an established business, Ashcombe recently began an initiative to support other regional small businesses. Cassie Debroisse, Ashcombe’s Marketing Director, notes that Ashcombe thrived during COVID because they were an essential business and many individuals turned to gardening as a hobby. Ashcombe wants to pay it forward by giving other small businesses access to its space and its large and supportive customer base. They recently partnered with Talking Breads and Wild Briar Blooms to allow these businesses to showcase their products at Ashcombe, and future collaborations are planned.

Cassie further explains how Mr. Gross’ “find a need and fill it” approach translates to present-day business planning for Ashcombe. “Sometimes the need is obvious,” she says, “and sometimes we need to do some community listening to see what customers want in terms of a shopping experience.” For example, Ashcombe recently revamped its extensive list of classes and workshops to involve more of the community, working with homeschool groups and offering a summer gardening camp for younger children ages 5 to 10.

Today, customers from throughout the region travel to Ashcombe’s location in Mechanicsburg to find the perfect mix of products, including flowers, vegetables, plants, herbs, and more in the greenhouse; trees, shrubs, and perennials at the nursery; seasonal décor and baked goods; produce; gourmet foods; gardening gifts and supplies; a café, and more. Classes, workshops, and special events, such as Fall Harvest Days, round out Ashcombe’s impressive offerings, which will continue to evolve to meet the needs of its customers for the next 60 years.

Ashcombe is one of 18 participating locations on Cumberland Valley’s new Fall Fun Trail, which runs from September 6 through November 6, 2022. “Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses is so excited to be a part of the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau’s Fall Fun Trail. Fall Harvest Days have been one of the cornerstones of Ashcombe’s business for over 40 years. We look forward to seeing new faces at Fall Harvest this year as people use the Fall Fun Trail to find local attractions like us,” says Cassie. The Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau, the destination marketing arm of CAEDC, appreciates Aschombe’s participation in our newest trail and looks forward to continuing its partnership with this local business.

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