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Delmar florist talks future plans

The Verstandig's Floral Shop has been a fixture in Delmar since 1932 when Robert's parents Bertha and Alfonse Verstandig started a landscaping business on half of the current property.

"We've been located here ever since," said Verstandig.

Ten years later, in 1942, his mother Bertha Verstandig started the flower business there.

"She literally used an ice box with ice delivered by Bob Westervelt, the old Delmar ice man," Verstandig said about his mother's original floral shop.

Alfonse Verstandig came to Delmar in the late 1920s, which was mostly owned by the Bennett family, according to Verstandig, to visit with a "school buddy" who also happened to be a horticulturist.

"He met Mrs. Verstandig here, and the rest is history," Verstandig said. Bertha Verstandig came to America with her family as German refugees from World War One.

The rest of the current property, which includes five greenhouses, a large two-story farmhouse, and the flower and gift shop, was built in 1958. The original house on the property was built in the early 1900s, according to Verstandig.

Starting "from the time I could work a wheelbarrow," Verstandig said, he officially became a part of the family business in 1960; the same year he married his wife, Ilse. Verstandig joined the business that year after serving in the United States Navy.

He retired as a captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve after 34 years of service and the Verstandig business was incorporated in 1970.

Fast-forward to today, and Robert and Ilse have continued the family tradition by bringing their own children into the business.

"My two sons joined with me, and they presently run the Selkirk business," Verstandig said.

In 1997, Verstandig bought "the old Riley Farm" on Creeble Road in Selkirk.

Robert Jr. and Mark Verstandig run the 18 greenhouses at the family's Selkirk location. Verstandig's daughter, Lisa Godlewski, is also in the agricultural business, serving as the executive director of the Cooperative Extension in Albany County.

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