We crossed Baker Creek or its tributary three different times along the dirt road drive to the old Rippee homestead. At first, Bakersville looked like any other busy farm that happened to preserve several wooden barns. Up close, more details likened it to the popular Silver Dollar City attraction just a few miles away in Branson. This Ozarks "pioneer village" is complete with a wild-west style jail, open-air music venues and quaint mercantile. Unlike other tourist attractions, this replica of America's frontier offers free admission (except during festivals) and is refreshingly devoid of the usual tourist trappings.
|Bakersville Pioneer Village|
Our family was visiting Bakersville, the Mansfield headquarters of fast growing Baker Creek Seed Company and the Missouri home of founder Jere Gettle and his family. We had planned on a tour with a public relations representative, understanding that the young Gettle family might be away at another of its homes in California. Instead, the young husband and father was still on site, in the midst of a major public garden renovation, and he was graciously available to speak with us.
Founder of Baker Creek Seed Company
Gettle is a 15-year veteran of the heirloom seed business, arguably the most successful heirloom seed mogul of our time. His company says it now sends out 350,000 seed catalogs a year. A couple of minutes before our interview, employees walked by with arms stacked high with paperwork, and someone noted that was just that day's seed orders. Gettle opened the popular Seed Bank in Petaluma, California and purchased Connecticut's historic Comstock, Ferre and Company in 2010 in the effort to restore it.
Yet, when I asked Gettle the best part of what he does, he didn't talk about entrepreneurship or his company's growing market influence that spans from coast to coast. Instead, he answered, “One of the things is just being able to re-find seeds for
people that are looking for seeds that might have been in their family or in
their culture. Finding something they
might have not seen in the last 30 or 40 years and listing it and offering it
back to people that are looking for seeds.
And also just offering unique varieties from so many different cultures
and so many different places being able to try them and grow them and get them
back into circulation and educate people about and learn for your yourself the history of these
|Family Home at Bakersville Pioneer Village|
Whether he truly views seeds as the more valuable currency or he's simply humble about his financial success, Gettle is a likable guy. He's been employing a growing number of people to help fill seed orders as well as create projects like the new garden under renovation. If you visit the homestead or another of the Baker Creek locations, Gettle's likely to greet you and chat about seeds, what else?
Peek inside the seed warehouse and more from our exclusive interview with Baker Creek's founder on the critical flaw his company tests for before seeds can reach customers.
Labels: agriculture, eating better, farm, food, garden, heirloom, Midwest, Ozarks, seeds