Simon’s Seed, an iconic Leesburg, Florida store, closed its doors forever on September 28, 2019.
Once featured in Southern Living Magazine, the quaint brick and mortar store located at 105 W Magnolia has supported a certain way of life for nearly eight decades. Originally a Philadelphia business, it was bought and brought to Florida by the Galbreath family in 1941. Brothers Bernard and Kenneth Galbreath expanded the business over the years to include selling seed, feed, a variety of fowl and all that is associated. In 1978 Bernard’s son Jerry and his wife Blandine took the reins, with Blandine adding her love and expertise of flora and fauna to the nursery section.
While it is the intention of HRL to dedicate space to local feed stores and promote small businesses in the horse world, the closing of this feed and seed store struck a personal note.
My mother – who subscribed to the “Progressive Farmer” magazine even though we never lived on a farm – made regular trips to Simon’s Seed, perhaps daydreaming about chickens, eggs, or gardening…but always with us children in tow. In fact, the best Christmas present I ever received was, in a certain way, a result of Simon’s Seed.
Besides the feed and seed company, Kenneth and Mary Agnes Galbreath owned a dairy, as well as trail horse rentals. They dedicated part of their Windy Acres Farm to make way for an arena and a club called Leesburg Saddle Club.
Barrel racing, pole bending, the flag race…they were all part of the games played on horseback at Windy Acres, with ribbons awarded and trophies given. Like a lot of young girls, I wanted to be astride a horse, hooves flying. Living within a mile of the arena, I would lay in bed on certain Saturday nights listening for the hum of loudspeakers announcing who was “on deck” for the next ride.
So the Best Christmas Present Ever came one year when I was about 12 years of age. I awoke on Christmas morning to find a 100-pound bag of ”sweet feed” from Simon’s Seed under the proverbial tree, with a note saying my gift was two weeks of horseback riding at Windy Acres Farm. I also got a guitar. No Christmas before or after even came close to creating the euphoria I experienced that particular December 25th.
The day after Christmas found me at Windy Acres Farm shortly after sunrise. There were a breeze and birds singing, with doves and crows erupting from the earth as I made my way into the pasture. It was warm for December and wisps of fog were still being emitted from the damp soil. My horse and rider living began that day.
What started out as just a bag of feed from Simon’s Seed sent me in a direction that I will never forget. While it is true that change is inevitable, there is always a certain sadness when literally one door closes and another opens. And so it is with Simon’s Seed: the building has been sold and another business will take its place.
However, it is not just a matter of doing business in a community – it is the sense of community and the many lives that literally have entered and exited through those doors over the years and have been touched in one way or another.
While saying goodbye to Simon’s Seed, you might want to say hello to Dirty Dog Organics Farm at 2026 Lewis Road in Leesburg, Florida. They are affiliated with Simon’s Seed and have bought most of the inventory from the store. They specialize in organics and would be happy to have you stop by. You can also visit them at www.dirtydogorganics.org. Tell them Horse and Rider Living sent you!