SPOTLIGHT ON BUCKS

Kind Earth Growers

Kind Earth Growers

Kind Earth Growers is a wholesale nursery located in Ottsville, Pennsylvania. Kind Earth Growers was founded in 2017 by John Mark Courtney to meet the regional demand for native wetland and dry–site perennials used in ecological restoration, stormwater management, and functional landscape design. Upon the completion of a B.S. in Environmental Design from Delaware Valley University in 1998, Courtney began his professional career in horticulture in Bucks County. For two decades he was the head grower and operations manager at Aquascapes Unlimited in Pipersville, PA. In 2019, Kind Earth Growers purchased the wholesale native plant assets of Aquascapes Unlimited as the next chapter and maturation of the business he helped build. By expanding the plant catalog to include a more diverse plant palette and shifting away from smaller plant sizes to landscape-ready, deep 50 cell trays, the business grew strongly.

Kind Earth Growers plantsThe native plants grown at Kind Earth Growers are seed-grown from open-pollinated, native populations in Bucks County.The native plants we grow at Kind Earth Growers are seed-grown from open-pollinated, native populations in Bucks County (Eco-regions 64 A&B). At Kind Earth Growers, we are passionate about the preservation of native plants in the landscape. By providing local landscape contractors and nurseries with our seed-grown native plants we are helping to preserve regional genetic plant diversity, which is the backbone to a healthy ecosystem for insects, flora, and fauna. The piedmont of Bucks County straddles two distinct regions, the New Jersey coastal and the Appalachian Mountain range; the plant diversity of these regions allows us to maintain a diverse list of species for a broad geographical area.

At the start of 2020, before Covid 19 changed the world, Kind Earth Growers had five full-time employees and was ready for a great year. When Covid 19 hit and shutdowns became a reality, many contracted orders were either postponed or canceled outright. The floriculture industry was able to remain operational throughout covid-19 but staying so posed unique challenges. Safety protocols, quarantine, payroll liability, changing guidelines, and future sales were all concerns for the business during the busiest time of the growing season. For the agriculture industry, and especially floriculture, covid-19 also created a surge in demand. As a small business, we did not have the tools or staff to remain agile. A PPP loan helped us continue our existing payroll obligations and allowed for the hiring of three additional employees.

KEG equipmentA loan from the BCEDC was invested in a Biotherm radiant greenhouse heating system installed this past winter. Photos by Kim Harding Design.To meet the surge in demand, it became evident that besides additional employees, we needed to also improve our infrastructure. Help from the BCEDC allowed us to finance the capital improvements needed at our facility. A loan from the BCEDC was invested in a Biotherm radiant greenhouse heating system that we installed this past winter. The Biotherm system with a starting cost of $38,000.00 is a radiant heating system fired by a high-efficiency boiler that delivers heat directly to the root zone of the crops. This system helps eliminate wasteful forced hot air heating, will pay for itself by allowing us to propagate throughout the calendar year, and grow(literally) faster and with more efficiency. With the installation of this system and the increased demand for native plants, Kind Earth Growers increased its staffing to 7 full-time employees and an additional six seasonal part-time employees for 2021. The seeds for 2022 have already been sown thanks to the capital investments made possible by the BCEDC.

For more information about Kind Earth Growers go to www.kindearthgrowers.com.