Words by Sandra Larriva Henaine
Several decibels away from the cacophonous Bedford Avenue scene, but only a short walk from the L Train stop is Sprout Home, arguably the neighborhood’s greenest shop. Co-owned by Brooklyn resident Tassy Zimmerman and her partner Tara Heibel, who runs their Chicago store, this indoor and outdoor plant heaven in Williamsburg has everything an urban gardener could ever hope for, from recycled glass terrariums, to aphid-eating lady bugs, to city gardening books, to gun-shaped flower vases.
Sprout Home started five years ago in Chicago by Zimmerman’s partner Tara Heibel. Zimmerman, who was working at a design firm at the time, quit her job to help Heibel run the store. A few years later, Zimmerman moved to New York and felt that a similar business would do well in her neighborhood.
“I couldn’t find a good garden center in the Williamsburg-Greenpoint area,” she said. “There were a lot of homes with yards, terraces and rooftops, so it seemed like people definitely had an interest in gardening.” She opened Sprout Home in June 2007.
Zimmerman grew up in a five-acre property in Washington State, but she never paid much attention to the greenery around her. “I had maybe one indoor plant that my mom gave me,” she said. All she knows she’s learned on the job, and this includes doing floral design (for both individuals and events), selecting designer gardening accessories, putting together free classes once a month (check the website for details), and maintaining the eight-section plant maze she built in the store’s backyard, among other tasks.
On one of the store’s walls hangs dozens of spider-looking air plants, rare creatures that do not need soil to survive. Just give them some light, humidity, and soak them in water every now and then, and they’ll “just hang out,” explained Zimmerman. The price for one of these starts at $3.50 and goes up to $40, depending on size.
Other wall-loving plants here are the staghorns, which when mounted on a wooden board look like deer antlers, as is the case here. These range from $40-$50.
The store’s outdoor area has anything from perennials to evergreens, herbs and vegetables to bamboos. The word on the street is that many Brooklyn residents buy bamboo plants to screen out all the new condos popping up all over the rapidly booming borough, so these are a hot item at Sprout.
On the really green side of things, Sprout Home does carry sustainable furniture, but that’s done mostly in the Chicago store. In Brooklyn, you can find window boxes made of teak, recycled concrete, and fiber material. You can also find items that, green or not, are sure to help you improve your environment. Fred & Friends’ “Ice Invaders: Blast Your Beverage,” a food-grade silicone ice tray that makes “perfectly pixelated ice cubes that look like totally retro in your tumbler,” according to the packaging, is one such item.
“Most of the stuff we carry relates to gardening, but if we see something that makes us laugh, we order it too,” said Zimmerman.
Sprout Home is located on 44 Grand St. in Brooklyn. Opening hours are 11am – 7pm, Mon-Sun.