Growing their businesses

The almond trees are blossoming, which means that spring is here, a good month before its official arrival. Chico and Butte County are blessed with fertile soil, plenty of water and a long growing season, which is why this is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.

When we think of local people who make their livings by growing things, we usually picture the farmers who grow almonds, walnuts, rice and other foods in such abundance. But there are many local growers in the Chico and Butte County area who grow specialty crops—everything from cacti to cut flowers—and together they make up a significant part of the local economy. We profile several of those growers in this issue of our monthly supplement focusing on local businesses.

In “Plant nerds and flower floozies,” staff writer Christine G.K. LaPado profiles the owners of several local nurseries that produce flowers, shrubs and trees designed to flourish in our hot summer climate. One of them is Germain Boivin, who grew up in wet, wintry Quebec but has adapted to this dry, hot region, producing and selling only native species that are similarly adapted at his Floral Native Nursery in Chico.

And, in “Business is blooming,” our calendar editor, Stacey Kennelly, who happens also to be a first-rate writer, profiles Marc Kessler, owner of California Organic Flowers. Working with just three acres of land on the western edge of Chico, Kessler grows a sufficient number of gorgeous flowers to be able to market them all over the country, via the Internet.

The Internet gives growers a way to reach customers that bypasses the traditional distribution systems. This is empowering, and it means that farmers with good products can make decent livings on relatively small pieces of land. We expect to see more of them in the future.

Christine and Stacey have written a couple of terrific stories. I hope you enjoy them.