“English” folk like you and me love to visit Mennonite and Amish businesses whether they be selling home bakes or produce. But few indeed get into the nursery and greenhouse market, and fewer yet succeed well enough to grow like Topsy.  Elvin Burkholder is one that’s thriving.

Elvin owns the Lakeside Greenhouse & Produce on London East Road just east of Shelby, Ohio.  To reach it you’ll drive a mile or so from the city on SR 96, turn north on Plymouth-Springmill Road, then east again a short distance on London East.  Signs direct visitors from Plymouth-Springmill, so it’s easy to find.

The business started small.  Elvin has a farm on London East, and he started selling produce in the 1980’s right at the farm.  At the same time his wife Verna worked in Friebel’s Greenhouse in Shelby, learned the business well, and when Friebel retired and sold his greenhouses, the couple bought one and set up shop.  It did well, so well that the business began interfering with farming.

“We needed more room.” Elvin said.  “I had a son that married and needed a house, so we built him one across the road and added a farm market that had a lot more space than our original place.  We grow our own produce, of course, and my son is a partner, which is good because the nursery is labor intensive.”

So, they first began adding standard nursery plants for spring sale like geraniums, impatiens, and marigolds, then went heavily into mums, which they’re selling right now.  “Mums take some work.” Burkhalter said.  “We buy small plugs and plant them in 8 inch mum pans which are set outside spaced about 18 inches apart.  We set up an automatic watering system and alternate fertilizing with 10 – 20 – 10 and 5 – 15 – 5.  That makes them dark green and bushy.”

Insects are always a worry in the nursery business whether they be white flies or spider mites, so plants are checked often and insect spray added weekly.  Otherwise, it’s business as usual.  Right now his sales room has a nice variety of offerings.  He has pumpkins from mini’s to Atlantic giants, and Goldrush to pie pumpkins.  There are big cushaws for pies, unusual gourds like snake gourds and wing gourds, and more ordinary things like watermelons and cantaloupes, tomaotes and squash, cabbages and peppers.  Lots to choose from. 

If you’re looking for a place to visit in Richland County, Ohio, this hard working Mennonite will remain open until the end of October.  Plenty of time to buy some mums and maybe a juicy cushaw for old time pies.

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One Comment to “Ohio Mennonite Knows How to Make A Nursery Grow”

  1. Steve Robinson says:

    I’m a friend of your son and read this site about a year ago . Now that I have left Spain I found it again in my “favourites” . This article on the Mennonites is great and I only wish I could visit one of their nurseries . I first saw some Mennonites ( though I didn’t know about them at first ) on an island off the coast of Belize . They were working very hard and were selling there produce on the island … vegetables , eggs etc .. Fascinating people , as are the Amish . It many ways , but not all , I think they’ve got life right .