The pioneer spirit is truly the heartbeat of the Oregon nursery industry’s growth.
In 1847, Henderson Luelling and his family loaded their wagons with personal possessions — including two wooden boxes filled with a composite mixture of charcoal and rich soil for over 700 grafted tree seeds — and departed west. Reading excerpts from explorer John C. Fremont and the journals of Lewis and Clark, Luelling marked their destination as the beautiful Willamette Valley in Oregon.
Luelling’s former neighbor and fellow nurseryman from Iowa, William Meek, arrived in Oregon a short time later, along with his 20 varieties of grafted trees. Knowing that the best was ahead, Henderson and William collaborated and formed the Luelling and Meek Nursery, the first for grafted plant material in Oregon.
From its humble beginnings on the Henderson Luelling homestead, the Oregon nursery industry has experienced steady growth over the past 175 years. Today, there are well over 600 nurseries growing more than 61,000 acres of nursery production, and 46 million square feet of greenhouse production, in Oregon.
There are many factors that contribute to the successful growth of the nursery industry. The rich Willamette Valley soil, combined with near-perfect growing climate and ample water supplies, make Oregon the ideal place to grow desirable plant material for people all over the United States and Canada.
Technological advancements allow us to work more efficiently, completing challenging tasks in a fraction of the time it would have taken in years past. This allows us the flexibility to be creative and do more with less, leading to innovation that keeps us moving onward and upward.
The collaborative spirit first demonstrated by Henderson Luelling and William Meek back in 1847 is truly the heartbeat of the Oregon nursery industry’s growth. Their willingness to share ideas, knowledge and wisdom learned through experience truly inspires us to be our best. The Oregon Association of Nurseries is the hub for such collaboration.
One of our main objectives as an organization is to bring people together where meaningful relationships are made and developed. It has been extremely beneficial to me over the past 25 years to know that I can call, text or visit other nurseries when I’ve needed to work through some issue, challenge or idea. I know that on the other end, I will always find a friend willing to work through it with me.
The diversity of thought in our industry allows me to see things from different perspectives. It helps me to make more informed decisions. I am grateful for the collaborative mindset that prevails in our business.
There are many nurseries I have not worked with — YET. I’m excited about the opportunity to get to know you, become a friend and collaborate with you.
If you haven’t already, or haven’t lately, I would encourage you to attend more OAN events. Seek opportunities to meet your peers in the business and expand our amazing collaborative network. Like the roots of a tree, each one of us are so critically important to the health and sustainability of the nursery industry in Oregon.
Like Henderson Luelling and William Meek, I am excited for what is to come. The best is ahead of us. Thank you for your contributions to this business we all love.