My name is Lucas West. I am running this GoFundMe to keep my store, Growing Wishes Greenhouse, running. I am a disabled, two-time cancer survivor who has been trying to build a business off of a wish. This is only my second season in this new location and we are still trying to improve old infrastructure. I am a 19 year old, double major at UW-River Falls for Horticulture and Music Education. I am raising money to rebuild two retail greenhouses that collapsed under the snow and ice load from this winter. Please click/tap on the donate now button to support my wish or continue reading to hear my story for more information on how Growing Wishes came to be and how I plan to continue growing! Thank you!
I have been in the garden for as long as I can remember. I was always helping Mom out in our small family garden. Playing in the dirt and watching plants grow has always been one of my favorite things to do and I have been growing things for years. When we moved to the country, I suddenly had lots of space to grow as much as I wanted. I started growing much, much more than we needed as a family.
I started my business when I was seven years old back in 2006. It started out with just a few extra pumpkins that I had grown that year. As time went by, I slowly added different types of produce and eventually plants.
Things were going very well. Then I started having a lot of bad pain in my left knee. The doctors tried all kinds of different tests and eventually ended up doing a biopsy surgery. I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 9.
Cancer has impacted my life in only a way that other childhood cancer patients can understand. When I was diagnosed it ripped away my childhood. Suddenly I was a specimen in this huge fight for life. Everyone tried to help me understand what was happening, but I was 9. A 9-year-old isn’t able to grasp the entirety of what is actually happening. Looking back at what happened from now, it is all a strange foggy memory. The treatment put my health to a point that I can hardly remember most of it. Just lots of needles, flashing IV towers, and repetitively saying my birthdate. I ended up going through 7.5 months of chemotherapy and having a surgery done called a rotation plasty. It’s a surgery that allows me to use my ankle in replacement of my knee so I am able to walk a little easier with the prosthetic.
Not everything was a bad outcome from the experience however. I got my first greenhouse from Make-A-Wish in 2009 after I won my battle with osteosarcoma (bone cancer). This greenhouse greatly expanded my business and I kept trying and adding new plants to the list of things I was growing.
After I got this greenhouse I also decided to name my business “Growing Wishes” in honor of Make-A-Wish. In 2014 the business added another greenhouse, this time a large hightunnel. I use this greenhouse to grow many different types of produce longer into the fall than I would be able to without the extra heat. In 2018 my business grew tremendously with the completion of a hoop house in February and the purchase of an established garden center across the road from where I am producing everything. Because I am only in my second year of college, I was not ready to manage something this large. However, under the circumstances, it was an opportunity that I couldn't let go. The garden center had two retail greenhouses and a showroom with future living quarters attached to it. The two retail houses are the two that collapsed this winter.
With my business I attend four different farmers’ markets every week and my store is open daily in the summer and Friday-Tuesday from September-October. I have learned a lot about plants and how to grow them through these very hands on experiences, where there is always something new to try.
I also participated in FFA and 4-H throughout highschool and was involved a lot with the horticultural part of them as well as State and National FFA Honors Band. I am continuing my love of horticulture and music by majoring in them at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. I am a double major with Instrumental Music Education and Horticulture with an emphasis on the Professional Horticulture Option. I also plan on taking several business and marketing classes throughout my college career. I am majoring in Horticulture to further my knowledge about how I can produce plants more efficiently and how I can market them better to improve the sales and quality of my business. I am also participating in the Horticulture Society student organization on campus. I am currently the Senior Floral Purchaser for this club. I take part in many different activities related to horticulture including: planting, pruning, sales, and caring for plants.
Music Education with an emphasis on the Instrumental Aspect is my other major at UW-River Falls. This degree will help me pursue my dreams of becoming a music teacher for either general music in elementary school or to be a high school band director. Eventually after I have a teaching job and a little experience behind me I want to go back to school to continue my education in conducting and eventually earn a masters and doctorate degree. With that goal I plan on eventually teaching music at the college level to help others find the beauty in sound and eventually for them to pass it on to anyone they play or teach for.
I participate in seven ensembles here on campus including one that I helped start. I am one of the founding members of our new UWRF Pep Band and am currently the Vice President and Drum Major of the student org.
I am currently in the middle of production season with the greenhouses. Every week I am planting thousands of seeds and starting hundreds of cuttings. My 4-season greenhouse is always full to the max and the production house is filling up fast with transplants. Within the next few weeks the hightunnel will be planted for the upcoming season and I will need a place to put all of the plants that I will have for sale at the store.
That brings us to now. Just this past week, between the snow and the rain, both of my large retail greenhouses collapsed under the weight and I need to have my store open by the end of April for a successful season. This is where I am asking for your help. Again, my name is Lucas West, I am a 19 year old college student that has won the fight against two different cancers. Please support my wish and donate to Growing Wishes so we can get a new greenhouse built! If you are unable to donate, please share this story with all of your family and friends. Any of your help is appreciated and I am truly thankful! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through my store’s Facebook account: Growing Wishes Greenhouse and Garden.