Best in the Nest Series August 6, 2021

Sixteen Acres Garden Center: How an Immigrant Family Founded a Local Gardening Staple

Sixteen Acres Garden Center is a staple for Springfield area garden enthusiasts—and it all started when the Bordenuk family immigrated from Ukraine.

This post is part of Swallow Estates Group‘s Best in the Nest Series, which highlights the best local businesses in Springfield, Western Massachusetts, and the Greater Pioneer Valley region.

One of the great joys of homeownership is decorating the yard for all to enjoy. Flowers, shrubs, trees, ornaments, trellises, bird baths, garden statuary, winding pathways—the sky’s the limit when it comes to landscaping creativity.

In the Springfield area, there’s one notable spot garden enthusiasts can go for most of their garden needs: Sixteen Acres Garden Center.

Founded by John and Joan Bordenuk in 1962, Sixteen Acres Garden Center is a family-owned business, now co-owned by John and Joan’s children: Steve (general manager), Debra (Floral and Gift Shops manager), and Judy (human resources and financial manager). Now in its second generation of family care, Sixteen Acres has secured its spot as the most beloved garden shop in the area. Sixteen Acres, in fact, has won The Republican Reader Raves award for “Best Nursery or Garden Center” consistently since the award’s inception in 2010.

It all started with the Bordenuk’s immigration from Ukraine, says Judy Bordenuk, human resources and financial manager.


Sixteen Acres Garden Center Springfield Massachusetts

Sixteen Acres Garden Center is a flower lover’s wonderland. (Photos courtesy Sixteen Acres Garden Center)


“My father inherited his ability to grow plants and his love of plants through his parents, who came from Ukraine,” Bordenuk says. “Over there, they each get an acre of land, and they have to work the land and provide for themselves off the land. So, his work ethic and love of plants came from that.”

After their immigration to the United States, the Bordenuks purchased the 10 acres of land the garden center now sits on. John Bordenuk helped his parents farm the land and sell cut gladioli, fruits, and vegetables—all grown on-site—at their roadside stand.

John continued to nurture his love of flowers, but when his early career ended in a lay-off from agricultural biotechnology firm Monsanto, he went back to the drawing board. John’s wife, Joan, encouraged him to start a business, reminding him he had always wanted to. That was exactly the encouragement he needed.

John went back to school to get a degree at Stockbridge School of Horticulture. He also got a part-time job at now-shuttered McDonald’s Greenhouses in Springfield and initiated purchasing the family’s land, little by little. He paid his parents in monthly installments as earnings came in. Finally, he bought the garden center’s first structure, a greenhouse from a local nursery that had gone out-of-business. He erected it on the land, and so Sixteen Acres Garden Center began.

“My mother was the strength behind my father,” Bordenuk says. “I like to say she raised five children, and my father raised Sixteen Acres Garden Center. We owe a lot to her—it was her impetus that got the thing going.”

Unfortunately, John passed away at the age of 85 in April 2020, due to complications from COVID-19. He left a strong legacy for his children to build upon, and they are doing just that.


John and Judy Bordenuk of Sixteen Acres

A young Judy Bordenuk stands with her father, John, in front of the first structure, a repurposed greenhouse, at Sixteen Acres Garden Center. (Photo courtesy Sixteen Acres Garden Center)


The business has grown from just one structure and a limited offering of plants in its early days to a multi-faceted garden center that offers the largest selection of annuals and perennials in Western Massachusetts. They also sell seeds, container gardens, herbs, trees, shrubs, vines, fruits, grass seed, fertilizers, soils, manure, gardening tools and supplies, garden accents and decor, and a full range of gifts and custom-made floral arrangements.

On a daily basis, you can find the Bordenuk siblings and their friendly staffers wearing many hats—receiving and stocking new products, taking care of plants, and helping customers.

Bordenuk says the hydrangeas are in full bloom right now, with so many colors to see. Sounds like the perfect time to stop by for a floral feast for your eyes!


Judy’s Local Recommendations


Judy Bordenuk John Bordenuk and Joan Bordenuk of Sixteen Acres Garden Center

Judy Bordenuk (left) with her parents John and Joan Bordenuk, founders of Sixteen Acres Garden Center. (Photo courtesy Sixteen Acres Garden Center)

Judy and her family grew up in the two-family home located next to Sixteen Acres Garden Center in Springfield, before moving to Wilbraham. The Bordenuk siblings still live in Wilbraham now, carrying on a love for gardening. They pride themselves on growing the best annuals around while also having a quality and variety selection of plants purchased from local growers. Meanwhile, they also take pride in employing knowledgeable teammates with horticultural backgrounds and education.

They’re a truly local family, living the American dream made possible by their grandparent’s foresight to purchase land and raise a son who knew how to care for it. And of course, Joan Bordenuk, who knew how to encourage her husband to follow his dreams of owning a business.

Here are some of Judy Bordenuk’s favorite spots in the area:


  • Echo Hill Orchards, Winery, & Distillery is the perfect spot for apple picking, Bordenuk says. You can pair it with hiking or a wine or moonshine tasting. Beyond apples, the farm also has pick-your-own peaches, sunflowers, and pumpkins when in season. 
  • Tanglewood is a music venue located in the Berkshire Hills, between Stockbridge and Lenox, about an hour outside of Springfield. It has been the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937. Bordenuk, like many other Springfield music lovers, enjoys taking in performances at Tanglewood during summer visits to the Berkshires. 
  • Randall’s Farm & Greenhouse in Ludlow has the best homemade ice cream at Elsie’s Creamery, Bordenuk says. They also sell delicious prepared foods and produce, she says.


It’s always a nice time to stop and smell the roses—or geraniums, magnolias, or peonies. Stop on by Sixteen Acres and support a family-owned business that brings passion to its work.

Find Sixteen Acres Garden Center online and on Facebook, Instagram, and Google.