Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards Co., the oldest fruit-tree nursery in the world, has began celebrating its 200th year in business.
It was founded in 1816 and is best known for introducing Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples. According to Stark Bro’s Chief Production Officer Elmer Kidd, those varieties still account for 40% of all apple sales, worldwide.
“It is a significant milestone for a company to survive just one century — to reach 200 years in business is almost unheard of,” says Ken Lane, Chief Marketing Officer. “We’re extremely proud of this achievement, and we plan to celebrate by sharing our heritage with our local community as well as our customers, vendors and friends across the country.”
Lane says the company is lining up a series of events and activities for the big 2016 anniversary, most of which will be open to the public. Among the main attractions will be an extended version of Customer Appreciation Days in April, an annual event that draws shoppers from the entire region. A Once-Every-Two-Centuries sale, along with a huge employee jubilee, will be held at the end of September. Detailswill be revealed in the coming months.
Bargain-hunters will be the beneficiaries of other goodies as well. “Our catalog and retail customers will see some ‘antique’ pricing of $18.16 on many items,” said Lane.
In conjunction with the anniversary, IngramSpark has published a history of the business and the six generations of Starks who have run it, up to the present day.
“200 Years and Growing: The Story of Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards Co. is a definitive history of an important family,” says Ron Stewart, a Revolutionary War historian based in Virginia. “To read about the trials and tribulations of the business — and the brothers themselves — is to get an education in perseverance, resilience and the American spirit.”
And in response to the perennial customer question of “What can I do with all of this fruit?” local chef/author Karen Mitcham-Stoeckley has written a fruit-only cookbook, Fabulous Fruits: Recipes for every season. Both books are available on the StarkBros.com website.
Co-owner Cameron Brown boils down the longevity of the company to one thing: the employees. “For their unrivaled dedication over these many, many years, there is no adequate adjective to express my appreciation.”