Forrest Keeling nursery is celebrating its 60th year! This nursery began as a backyard mail order business and has grown into such a successful, international wholesale operation that I had to take this staff photo from a fork lift! Visiting Forrest Keeling is like being welcomed into a family. And in fact you are! Forrest Keeling is family-owned and operated, and it is run by the kindest, most hardworking group of folks imaginable.
I've made several trips to the nursery, located just outside the town of Elsberry, in northeast Missouri, to photograph its events, research projects, staff members and products. And here's the latest: photos from the 2013 Fall Field Day, a professional development event for landscape and nursery professionals from around the country.
The event included lectures; wagon and walking tours of the nursery's operations; an appearance by humorist and wildlife impersonator, Ralph Duren; a pawpaw tasting (hard to describe...part mango and part papaya flavors?); and a chance to sample roasted chestnuts and . . . chestnut beer (?!) donated the Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, based in St. Louis.
Forrest Keeling's contribution to the landscape and nursery industry has been immense. In fact, it's hard to describe the full extent of what Forrest Keeling offers. There is a retail garden center where folks can drop in to purchase a huge variety of shrubs, trees, ground covers and other landscape supplies. But the nursery's main emphasis now is its wholesale business. Just to give you a sense of scale: Forrest Keeling has approximately 60 employees, encompasses over 1000 acres of agricultural land, and it's greenhouses occupy 10 full acres. Each year Forrest Keeling produces four million seedlings from over 200 species that are shipped across the United States as well as to Canada, Europe and Asia for conservation and environmental restoration projects. All that AND they still manage to host events like the Field Day and the Annual Chestnut Roast.
Which reminds me, Forrest Keeling is hosting the 4th Annual Chestnut Roast this coming Saturday, October 12. You should go!
A few highlights from the Field Day:
~ the garden center for a bit of retail landscape shopping:
~ scenes from Forrest Keeling's operations
~ tours of Forrest Keeling
~ chestnuts! (I had no idea chestnuts actually come in green prickly outer peels!)
~ chestnut beer (very yummy!)
~ landscape and nursery professionals enjoying time to chat in Forrest Keeling's cypress grove
~ Ralph Duren demonstrating wildlife calls (I lost count of how many different kinds of birds and animals he can mimic!)
~ and can I just say again how amazed I was by this chestnut peel?!
I high recommend packing a picnic lunch and heading out to Forrest Keeling's 4th Annual Chestnut Roast on Saturday, October 12. It is well worth the drive!