By Arianna Bolotin
ROCKINGHAM, VERMONT- There’s no place quite like Morning Star Perennials and Nursery. Located almost two miles up a narrow dirt road, this sanctuary for plant-lovers is off the beaten path. However, the extra five-minute drive is worth customers’ time. After being greeted by two young, energetic golden retrievers and strolling past chickens and a one-legged rooster, visitors to Morning Star Perennials and Nursery find a flourishing flower farm that conducts business differently and cares about more than just making money.
Since the business is a family-run venture, owners Scott and Laurie Bolotin are always on-site and interacting with each customer. Laurie explains that “the personal attention that we give our clients, the health and vitality of our plants, the huge variety of plant selections that we offer, and the fact that we’re an organic and sustainable farm and we make our own soil are all the hidden parts of the business that people don’t know.”
Scott and Laurie demonstrate a unique passion for their plants. “We are plant lovers, just like you. We are gardeners, just like you,” Laurie illuminates. “Our hard work is the heart of our business. We care that our plants are healthy and that the plant we sell someone goes into the right conditions when it’s planted. We’re not just trying to sell the plants. We’re friendly, we’re informative, and we’re educators.”
Morning Star’s customers recognize and appreciate the passion behind the business. “People tell us that they’ve had enough of the main road, big nurseries,” says Laurie. “People respond to the fact that we’re a real farm on a dirt road in a beautiful location and that we’re unlike so many other big plant businesses.”
Laurie’s favorite part of Morning Star is interacting with customers and meeting new people. “We meet amazing people here,” Laurie happily shares. Visitors are often side-tracked for countless periods of time as Scott takes them around the grounds and shows them dry stone work that he’s created and apple, pear, and peach trees that he’s taken care of for 20 years. “Friendships have been formed because of this business,” Laurie concludes.
Scott and Laurie also hold true to their organic and sustainable philosophies. The soil at Morning Star is composted on-site over two years and no chemicals are used to treat plants; instead, manure and seaweed fertilizer are occasionally utilized, just to give plants a little natural boost. Potted trees and shrubs are embedded in the ground to reduce evaporation of water, and customers are encouraged to drop off empty plant pots to be reused.
Rather than growing premature plants in a greenhouse like so many plant businesses, every plant at Morning Star is cultivated outside. This allows plants to adapt easily when transplanted from pot to garden. “Our plants go from outside-in-the-sun to outside-in-the-sun, not greenhouse to outside-in-the-sun,” Laurie explains.
If Morning Star was less of a hidden treasure, it would lose much of its authenticity. Laurie predicts that “being located on a main road would require an expansion past the small family-run size. The business would get less personal and it would lose its principles.” The owners are not willing to give up their philosophy in exchange for a more customer-friendly location. “Here we are,” says Laurie, “with our chickens and our dogs and the place we raised our kids, and we have our business side-by-side with our lifestyle and on the land that we’re so fortunate to farm on.”
“Customers are as appreciative of the principles we stand behind as much as we are passionate about those principles,” she shares.” That’s why people come out here, and continue to come back.”