I came to be a grower much the same way as did my father and his father and his father before him. Growing has been part of my family's life for many, many generations. Whether it was vegetables, fruits or flowers, there was always a close connection to the earth and experimenting with different growing techniques. When I was six years old in Holland, I ventured for the first time into what would eventually become my life's vocation. My brother and I were partners growing cacti that we sold to our neighbors - it was our first agricultural enterprise.
My father taught me aspects of the nursery business from an early age by allowing me to help in the nursery getting product ready for market and cleaning up in the greenhouse. It gave me an appreciation for the amount of work it takes to run a nursery operation. Dad worked many twelve hour days and at times seven days a week.
Coming to the US from Holland was a wise move on the part of our parents, and settling in the Carpinteria Valley was a little miracle.
Carpinteria has all the right conditions for growing perfect flowers; the prefect amount of sunshine, temperate climate and ideal humidity levels make Carpinteria heaven for most blooms.
When I started at Maximum in 1982, my Dad and I planted a trial of a new flower, the Gerbera daisy. That half acre trial gave us plenty of challenges. We were the first growers in the US to grow them for the commercial market and my dad was sure that this crop would be one that would change the industry.
You have to be a risk taker in the nursery industry. It’s a field where one is constantly challenged by growing a live product, anticipating and/or responding to consumer trends and there is always at least one fire burning. Growing flowers is a passion, and that passion has strong roots when you have grown up in this environment. It’s incredibly gratifying that bright and early each morning, I open the door to the greenhouses to be greeted by a sea of bright and cheery colors. The Gerbera has been a favorite of mine for many years, it has broad appeal and a bouquet without a Gerbera daisy is just not all it should be.
This industry, like many others, is changing at a rapid pace. We are doing our best to adapt to market forces, environmental concerns, technology advances, and to making sure that the next generation can continue to enjoy the beauty and the challenges of this vocation well into the future.