Ashlynn Jubilee and Amanda Brower- Beautiful granddaughter and daughter in law.
Ashlynn Jubilee and Amanda Brower
My first job after graduating from UF was as a nursery propagator. After a few months I was promoted to nursery manager and met the girl who would become my wife seven years later.
A few years later I returned to the east coast of Florida with the hopes of starting a tree farm. To keep some money coming in I took a job as a sales manager of a nationally recognized pest control company. That was a real eye opener. Eventually, Terri and I began to grow and sell flowering plants and fruit trees. After several of our eight children were born we let them pick what they wanted to do on the farm. Vegetables, chickens, goats, and cows were soon added.
During these years I began to question the benefits of the amounts and kinds of chemicals typically used in agriculture. Since our children were growing vegetables we really did not want them working in pesticide residue and we certainly did not want to eat it after reading the labels on the bottles and bags it came in!
At the same time I began to notice that production was decreasing. Plus, we were battling the same problems every season. I began looking for the causes of the problems instead of just treating the symptoms with the suggested chemical quick fix. At this point we were not considering organics because, after all, my favorite professor had taught me that organic farming was fine for the back yard hippie but was not commercially viable.
However, I noticed that our once productive soil teaming with biology had became a dead unproductive sand. It was in fact on its way to becoming toxic. In order to build life back into the soil we began adding carbon as organic matter and stopped using acidulated petroleum based fertilizers that were burning up the organic matter and killing the beneficial soil life. Since we did not want to eat poisons we began looking for alternatives to synthetic chemical pesticides. So began our foray into organic farming.
Before long we noticed something amazing. God had created a biological system that was incredibly resilient, self cleaning, and sustainable. When we stopped interfering with His biology- and started working with it- the beneficial soil microbes, fungi, bacteria, earthworms, and good bugs quickly returned. Plant diseases mostly disappeared when we began using kelp meal as a nitrogen source. Earthworms became our soil tillers and the bug problems became less severe. We had a lot to learn but our slim profit margin was no longer being spent on pesticides that left a toxic scent in the air.
Our customer base quickly grew and we learned much from these people who were very serious about what they ate. Most of our customers had battled cancers or other serious diseases and had to radically change their diets. Many who had undergone chemotherapies were very sensitive to synthetic chemicals in the environment. We learned that some could not even enjoy their own yards because of the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides commonly used to keep them "green."
One family actually had to pay to have their home torn down and disposed of in a toxic waste dump along with the soil around the house. The chemicals used to prevent termite damage had been over used and poisoned every member of the family. Years later and after thousands of dollars they still suffer greatly and work is accomplished with a struggle most of us will never know. This is an unusual case, or is it? How many of us live in toxic homes and do not know it?
With encouragement from our customers we began to see the tremendous need to transfer what we had learned on the farm to landscape care. There was still a lot to learn. People could be very serious about what they ate but that did not mean they would tolerate weeds in the lawn or dead spots left from chinch bugs. There are limits you know!
Frankly, it is very difficult to manage lawn weeds organically. God's creation abhors a monoculture. There are millions of seeds blown into lawns everyday in order to keep them green! Eliminating all but one variety is a challenge indeed. We learned that losing our patience and using just a little poison could upset the balance we were working to establish. But, there were safe synthetic chemicals that could help in the transition. It is not a matter of chemicals versus organics. Everything is made up of chemicals!
What had to be considered is how any input affected everything else in the system. Bread with no salt is pretty bland. Pie with just a tiny bit of manure is ,well, I'm not finding out! Add a little bleach to vinegar and it is very exciting. We have to be careful what we pour into the system whether it is our bodies or the soil.
So we learned that how you mow and water the lawn is as important as what kind of fertilizer you use. And adding the wrong nutrients could be worse than adding no fertilizer at all. It is a science, not an experiment. When you put it all together it works.
Now we are blessed to work with a fine group of young men and women who care about what they do and do it well. They work well together and treat each other with respect. That's because they are good at what they do and they respect one another. It took some time to find the right people but we are making progress. When you hire us for a job, large or small, you will find all of them to be courteous, knowledgeable, and careful. You can also ask anyone of us a question- we are all US citizens who speak English. The industry says that can't be done.
But they can't figure out how we are doing what we do anyway! We are learning, we're growing, we're giving the best possible service to each person we work for. Personally I am having the time of my life. I look forward to meeting you and seeing how we can serve you in this organic experience we call life.