About CJ Van Bourgondien
CJ Van Bourgondien, Inc started with one man wanting to settle down and start a family while living the American dream. Going from a bulb salesman, working for his father from Holland, to a business owner in the United States, all started in 1916. Cornelius John Van Bourgondien bought 36 acres of land in West Bablyon, NY and established a greenhouse business in his name in 1939, incorporated. CJ quickly contacted his good friend Anthony “Tone” Vanderveldt in Holland to come and be the manager and co-owner for the new business. Both men had rich family backgrounds rooted in years of Horticulture.
CJ Van Bourgondien, Inc. came onto the market selling cut flowers. Gerbera, Freesia, and Orchids were some of the cut flowers sold out of their greenhouses. Many of the orchids were brought from Africa in the embryonic stage, developed, crossbred, and later became award winners sold commercially on the east coast.
CJ and his wife Clara (Keser) built a beautiful French tutor home on the land in West Babylon along with their many greenhouses. The Van Bourgondien family grew to include sons Cornelius “Neil”, Phillip, John, and daughters Elizabeth”Liz” and Joan. Neil Van Bourgondien started an expansion of the business in Maryland, while Philip and John took over the helm as their father CJ retired. Both Joan and Liz stayed connected to their love of the business. Liz in Easton, MD at a florist, and Joan remains with CJ Van Bourgondien’s in Peconic. The original site of the greenhouse is now part of the County park systen and is named Van Bourgondien Park. It is located on Albin Ave in West Babylon, and the French Tutor homestead still stands.
In the early 1970’s the family business was forced to move out of West Babylon and relocate. Peconic held a piece of land suitable to build greenhouses on and continue the business. Co-owners and brothers Phillip and John moved their families out and started a new chapter in growing under glass. Many trips between West Babylon and Peconic were made as the new greenhouses were constructed by the families. Joan and her family also uprooted and followed her brothers to Peconic. The switch from cut flowers to potted material was necessary and a good change. Best of all, this change proved to be the new product people were looking for as being in one’s garden took off.
Phillip Van Bourgondien retired and moved to Virginia with his wife Kay in the early 1990’s. The family grieved when Philip lost his battle to cancer in 2006. But, his love of horticulture lives on in his son Rick. Rick Van Bourgondien manages his own retail nursery in Deer Park, NY, called no other than Van Bourgondien Nursery. John Van Bourgondien still lives out east. He and his wife, Meg (daughter of “Tone” Vanderveldt, late manager of the greenhouses) enjoy playing golf and have quite the active retirement. On various occasions you can find them helping out during busy seasons.
Today you can find John Van Bourgondien’s children Bob, Mark, and Tracy continuing the traditions of the family business. Family is everywhere in the greenhouse. Bob’s wife Pat manages all those numbers in the bookkeeping, Mark’s wife Karen takes on the challenge of sowing the seeds. Aunt Joan recently retired but still keeps a daily journal on the greenhouse endeavors thru her daughter Sharon. Sharon came back to the family business to help out and to also take care of her mother Joan. Any of the children of Bob, Mark or Tracy can be found lending a hand at the greenhouses.
And Yes, we are related to the Van Bourgondien’s of K. Van Bourgondien -the bulb company!