Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Day With Doug Grimm

"Life is a shade better under a tree."

My first observation is that Doug is a very interesting man who knows a little something about everything and everything has a story behind it. 

During our discussion of edibles, we stumbled onto the subject of goji berries and surprisingly Doug knows a lot about goji berries.  He explained that the leaves have more antioxidants than the fruit, listed a handful of varieties he has been successful with, and then proceeded to show us a book full of goji berry recipes.

As you tour his arboretum and his "u-pick" orchards, Doug has countless varieties of trees, shrubs, and fruits and is knowledgeable about each and every one of them.  And just about every one of them comes with a story. 

The best story is that of the Oregon Trail maple, a Doug Grimm discovery. The parent tree is one that Doug remembers visiting as a young child.  Every Halloween, his family would go into Hiawatha to look at the coloring maples.  One particular sugar maple colored like no other sugar maple Doug has seen.  When this tree was still standing unharmed after a terrible ice storm in 2007 devastated all others, Doug knew this tree was different.  He diligently pursued the introduction of this tree and he remembers clearly where he was when he received the phone call from J. Frank Schmidt & Son.  He was in Falls City, NE digging a hole to plant a tree, as he had done countless times before.  But this hole was unlike any other.  As he is digging, the dirt started to fall back in the hole instead of coming out.  Well, being the son of a ditch digger, Doug knew that when dirt moved this way this meant he had hit a cavity.  You will never guess what he had dug into - a section of the Underground Railroad!  As they were waiting for word from the city on how to proceed, Doug received the news about his Oregon Trail Maple.

I was also struck by Doug's ingenuity and his willingness to adapt. Doug's nursery, Grimm's Gardens, is located in Hiawatha, KS.  A city with a population of about 3,000 and that is the largest city in the county. Traffic through the nursery was down and Doug knew he had to adapt. Adapt they did. A couple years ago, Grimm's Gardens ventured into the world of online sales.  They now have a successful web store and are selling on Ebay and Amazon.

As we were wrapping up the day, Doug had one more gem for us.  We drove (three of us on the golf cart) into the barn where he showed us his homemade fertilizer. Inside a big blue drum, atop a raised platform, a bag of worm castings was steeping into a worm casting tea. Yes, worm casting tea used successfully as a fertilizer. A perfect ending to a surprising and educational day at Grimm's Gardens.

Caitlin Hupp, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery

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