The Valdosta Daily Times
If you hold your hand to your knee, that's about how old Larry Dasher, Jr. was when he started helping his dad, Larry Dasher, Sr., out with the family business, Dasher Nursery.
“He's the third generation,” said the elder Dasher, who, like his son, has been in the business since he was young.
It all started 47 years ago, in 1966, when the elder Dasher's parents decided to open Dasher Nursery and go into business for themselves. His dad had been working for a nursery in Madison, Fla. for a couple of years, learning the business as he went along, planning to open his own nursery.
“He just thought it was a good, down-to-earth way to make a living.”
Opening up Dasher Nursery was a combined effort from the whole family.
“We didn't have automatic sprinkler systems then. All the kids became the sprinkler system.”
It was a lot of work getting it off the ground and getting it into the ground, but good work. Honest work. And that's something that's never changed.
There have been other changes, though. Dasher Nursery has gotten out of the landscaping business, choosing instead to draw on their long years of experience to advise their customers.
“We are trying to weather this economic storm.”
Part of that is diversifying by growing and selling their own produce.
“It might be the best move we've ever made. We spent a few years practicing, figuring out what we wanted to grow.”
The Dashers decided on a long list: watermelon, sweet corn, okra, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, butter beans, tomatoes, greens, broccoli. It's a list that allows them to grow throughout the year, bringing fresh produce in as the seasons cycle through.
“We're not trying to do anything big scale, just five acres. We do want to expand to 10 acres. We're in the process of getting some fields ready.”
Though the produce side has proved popular, the nursery side of the business is still the majority of it.
“We try to keep things growing, to show people what they can grow, even if they only have a patio.”
It's something the younger Dasher is particularly passionate about.
“Most people, if they live in the city, they think they can't grow anything,” said Dasher Jr. “But if you get a container, a good soil mix, you can grow.”
You might think that after 47 years, the elder Dasher might be ready for a change, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
“It's what I know. And I like it, like the idea of carrying on the family name, the family business. And if we can help somebody out with what they grow, even better.”
It's a sentiment that his son echoes.
“That's the main thing, helping people. We have great customers, people who we call by name when they walk in. We'll do anything for them.”
After a life time of working at the family nursery, the younger Dasher wants nothing but to continue, to see things grow, business wise and agriculture wise.
“I'd much rather be working out here than inside, stuck at a computer. We've been doing this for 47 years...I say, why not make it a hundred?”