Green Thumb Day Care and Pre-School, which opened last November at 361 North Main Street in Barnegat, might seem like the typical day care center. It provides care for infants through 6-year-olds, with aftercare for children up to age 12. During the summer months, a summer program will be provided for the older children.
But, just looking at the building, which looks more like a Victorian home with a wrap-around porch, it is apparent why the name "Green Thumb" was chosen. Adjacent to the center's playground area is a greenhouse.
"We're teaching kids about the environment, soil and watering," said Dave Cavalier, Green Thumb's owner. "They're planting flowers and vegetables. We'll eventually put the plants outside in raised beds."
The 4,000-square-foot daycare center is licensed for 59 children and currently has more than 30 enrolled.
Cavalier, who has lived in Waretown for 27 years, opened his first business in Barnegat 11 years ago. Cavalier Senior Care employs 60 home health aides who provide a variety of in-home services to senior citizens in the area.
"We take care of people in their homes, taking care of their daily lives," said Cavalier. "We have a wheelchair van to take clients to appointments and we also offer live-in services."
When the property next door to their small office was put up for sale, he said he decided to expand his business.
"I looked into adult daycare but saw more of a need for child daycare," he said. It took two years for the daycare center to become reality.
Cavalier graduated from college with a degree in sociology and a minor in elementary education. But, he said he always was business-oriented.
In April, Cavalier expects to open his third business in Barnegat -- Adrianna's Garden Center and Country Market -- at 365 North Main Street, adjacent to the daycare center.
The garden center and market will sell flowers, produce, lawn ornaments, cheeses, pastas, sauces and other specialty items.
"There doesn't seem to be a lot of that in the area," said Cavalier. "We're located across the street from a new liquor store, so if people are visiting, they can stop in the market for gourmet cheese and then go across the street for a bottle of wine."
Cavalier said he hopes the market will attract people who are going to entertain.
Green Thumb Day Care and Pre-School and Adrianna's Garden Center and Country Market are part of new business development in Barnegat Township's Historic District, which also includes Super Saver Wines and Spirits.