Presenting Greenhouse Grower’s 2024 Operation of the Year Finalists

Kind Earth Growers

Kind Earth Growers

Kind Earth Growers, Ottsville, PA

The team at Kind Earth Growers aims to share in the common goal of producing-high quality plants. All employees are encouraged to attend regional and national symposium. The growing team participates in educational webinars and in person sessions that are offered by AmericanHort, the Perennial Plant Association, and other organizations, and are constantly trying to better themselves and the plants by following up with technical support from suppliers.

Kind Earth invests in automation to help with labor efficiencies, but also prides itself in being human centric and hand grown. As a smaller company, Kind Earth does not have the advantages of scale, so making sure they are efficient is key. The team evaluates all crop inputs, bench turns, and scheduling to keep the production space growing and not idle. It looks for “shoulder season” market opportunities to continue to grow when the heat and light are free. The goal is always 100% on the bench, and that starts with the seeds.

Kind Earth Growers is always striving to grow its best, and when it finds successes in areas where other native plant growers may struggle, it willingly shares that information.

Perfecting Emitter Placement for Drip Irrigation of Summer Bedding Plants

“Competition is not enjoyable if the bar isn’t continually raised and as the demand for native plants grows, we do our best to support everyone who is growing with us so the tide continues to rise,” says owner John Courtney.

Little Prince of Oregon

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery, Aurora, CO

Little Prince believes in offering the highest quality, and every plant is grown in a manner consistent with the optimal soil blend, nutrition, and integrated pest management for that particular species. The company has made major investments in management software designed to streamline marketing and sales delivery, and in solar generation, high-efficiency heating and cooling, and modernized logistics systems to lessen energy inputs. Little Prince has also implemented an aggressive and successful biocontrol, biorational, and low-impact pest and disease control program across the entire nursery.

Little Prince continues to increase profitability through researching and implementing new ways to grow plants efficiently as well as seeking out new customers across the U.S. and Canada. The growing staff at Little Prince is continually looking for new, high-value plants to add to their collection, making them stand out among their peers for quality breeding and selection.

Little Prince is one of the most recognizable brands in horticulture today due to its marketing efforts. It employs a fresh, modern voice throughout its website, social media, speaking events, trade show appearances, and more to cultivate customers across a wide spectrum of demographics.

“As the needs of the company have grown and evolved over the years, every member of our team has grown to meet new challenges,” says Mark Leichty, Director of Operations at Little Prince of Oregon.

Spring Creek Growers

Spring Creek Growers

Spring Creek Growers, Waller, TX

Spring Creek Growers continues to grow/adapt as a family-owned business in a rapidly consolidating market. The company recently invested in upgrades to its ERP software systems and some CRM management tools to enhance the customer experience. Most of Spring Creek’s square footage is pre-booked year-round, so it must keep its customers informed of its material as it progresses and have technology tools in place to make communication and crop management most efficient.

When budgeting new programs, Spring Creek looks at ways to add value and marry what is perceived as value in the marketplace. The company is conservative with its long-term debt load and monitors working capital needs.

Even while suffering damages from a tornado that came through the area in mid-May, Spring Creek keeps its customer base front and center. The company fosters connections between its customers and the entire Spring Creek team, from management to maintenance. In the local community, Spring Creek President Lauren Kirchner engages with students at an elementary school garden club, where she hopes to plant the seeds for a future in gardening.

“One of the things we are most proud of is success in succession planning,” Kirchner says. “With the connections of EAGL, we sought a specialist to guide us through the peaks and valleys of tough conversations and family dynamics. After 18 months, we produced a transparent and actionable plan for our company and community and a plan formulated for the common good of our family.”

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