I’m the daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of growers and farmers, but for some reason, suburbia in the 1980’s & 1990’s didn’t offer much in the way of continuing the tradition. To her credit, my mother tried. I read books on 4-square gardening, I helped plant flowers and tomatoes almost every year; when I was really little, I remember a strawberry patch next to our house, with asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, herbs, and a grand attempt at corn out back. But, once I hit high school (no, middle school, really…), I was pursuing interests that didn’t leave much dirt on my hands.
Three years ago, I started working for Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards Co. To my pleasant surprise, when asked about “the new job,” most folks my parents’ age and older knew exactly who I worked for! Stark Bro’s has been around for nearly 200 years. If I recall my research correctly, it’s one of the oldest businesses in the United States of America. Back in the day, when your life was how you lived — every single day — Stark Bro’s was a small orchard company that grew their own fruit trees. The Stark brothers propagated these trees and shared their love for “growing your own” with neighbors around Louisiana, Missouri. That love spread nation-wide over the past two centuries, and today the company grows all sorts of berry plants and garden plants in addition to many fruit trees and nut trees.
2008 rolls around and in saunters little ol’ me: a gal with a dormant heritage in dirt, just waiting to wake up. The whole purpose of Stark Bro’s is to extol the virtues and benefits of “growing your own“. Wherever you live, whether you’re downtown in the city, sitting comfortably in your 1/4-acre suburban yard, or out on hundreds of acres of true farm land, you can grow your own food.
Earlier I mentioned the environment here… because as a company, Stark Bro’s actually does what they promote: they actually grow their own trees. I get to see the hundreds of acres where these fruit trees are grafted, propagated, and harvested; I see the greenhouses that start off these berries and bushes; I get to experience the smell of earth and roots as these living plants are packed to ship out all over the nation. Someone is going to be a very happy homesteader when they get their Stark Bro’s boxes filled with goodies! These plants and trees are ready to plant and growers are ready to nurture, invest, and bask in the experience that comes from growing your own.
And I am so excited. I’m sure you know the feeling of receiving a new catalog, flipping through the pages of photo after photo, trying to narrow down what you’ll plant this spring because… if you could… you’d plant everything in front of you! I look at these catalogs every single day. I see all the possibilities from what we grow here at Stark Bro’s, and it’s hard not to want them all!
Last year I planted two kinds of grapes: Canadice Seedless and Glenora Seedless. Just pruned them this past weekend (first time!), since grapes grow on 1-year vine growth (new growth!). This is significant for me, because these are the first edibles I’ve grown on my own.
The first, but, believe me, not the last.
This is the start of my Urban Homestead with Stark Bro’s plants. I feel privileged and honored to be part of such a legacy, and I so look forward to continuing it.
— Meg C.
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