by Aliya Hall
Fox Hollow Creek Nursery in Eugene, OR, has a little bit of everything, from fruit trees to vegetables to hops, and owner Michael Kaszycki said he prefers the diversification because “the world’s my oyster.”
“Plants are awesome on a number of fronts,” he said. “There are flowers for your soul or food for your belly – or both. I never cease to be amazed. I post photos on Facebook and Instagram, and taking pictures is just an excuse to look closely and slow down.”
In Oregon, nurseries are considered essential businesses. Kaszycki said it’s been keeping his business incredibly busy.
“People stuck at home want to do gardens and want a little control of their lives,” he explained. “Ergo, my business has gone up.”
Even in Eugene, some nurseries have closed their doors, which makes business even busier. As a one-man operation, it puts Kaszycki in a unique situation. That said, he maintains preventative measures to keep everyone safe. One of his stipulations in staying open was making sure customers maintain social distancing. Many of his customers have also been wearing masks and gloves.
Even though he runs an essential business, with people still being told to stay home, it’s resulted in some mixed messaging. Should people come in?
“I’m finding people are more gracious with the situation,” he said. “They’re grateful that I’m open when so many places are closed, and I generally find people who raise plants are nurturing, giving people.”
One of the biggest concerns Kaszycki has is the potential of catching the virus. Although Oregon hasn’t seen the same impacts as other states like New York, Kaszycki is a New York native and has been keeping up on that state’s situation because he has connections there.
Kaszycki has been running Fox Hollow Creek Nursery for 12 years. He said 40 years ago he didn’t know anything about plants, but when he moved to Eugene he decided “with all the good food, I wanted to be a part of it.” He became involved with the farmers market and said it slowly evolved from there.
Fox Hollow Creek Nursery has everything for a household’s planting needs. He has fruit trees, ornamental plants, flowers, vegetables, bamboo, citrus, hops and climbing plants. “There’s so many cool plants,” he said. “Figs to persimmons to lemon trees. There’s a lot of fun plants, and then the house plants have really taken off.”
He said it’s impossible for him to pick a favorite because it will vary by season and day. He said he’ll walk through an aisle and there’s elderberry, gooseberry, grapes and raspberries. “Nursery business is a lifestyle,” he explained. He doesn’t just work Mondays through Fridays – he’s at the nursery all the time, seven days a week. “For me it’s a real joy getting people to come in. There’s never grumpy customers. They’re always happy to be there and be planting.”
Every morning there are learning curves for Kaszycki. He said he’ll start from ground zero and work his way up again.
“There’s so much to know about this whole thing,” he said, “but it’s like a sharing thing. I talk to people all day long about plants, and everyone has experiences and we’re exactly where we want to be.”
He said the most rewarding aspect of what he does is knowing there are hundreds of fruit trees going out into Eugene and Lane County that he grew from roots and sold to people. “And they’re planting fruit trees all around,” he said. “That’s a winner.”
Although the retail side of things is a “whole different ballpark” compared to the growing, he said he enjoys every aspect.
“I love what I do and the sharing in the community thing. All of that is awesome and I will do it until I can’t,” he said.
During this stressful time, Kaszycki said he is worried about people, especially because there were a lot of lonely people out there to begin with, and now they’re stuck inside their houses and not touching. His suggestion for everyone to cope is to just share in nature.
“Share this beauty and growth,” he said. “I try to pay attention to the joy and profound gratitude.”