For the past 10 years, Marvin's Organic Gardens has grown from a small, family owned business into a 20-person operation that serves families at all economic levels looking for fresh, healthy food alternatives.
Located in Lebanon, Marvin's is going into its 11th spring as a full-service nursery, landscape design company, and retail and garden center.
Founded in 1999, the business was USDA Certified Organic in 2003.
"It's really about promoting a healthier environment for ourselves, our children and our wildlife," said Wes Duren, who's worked at the garden center since its inception along with his father Marvin Duren.
Marvin, the center's namesake, came up with the idea of starting an organic garden center decades ago, his son said.
"He was in Vietnam in the early '70s and observed the use of (chemical weapon) agent orange and saw the devastation is caused trees, birds and vegetation after he and fellow soldier's doused the fields," he said.
The experience had a profound effect on Marvin, who decided he would never use any chemicals, like traditional fertilizers, to garden again.
"There are active ingredients in herbicide today that have mutagenic effects," Wes said.
The center provides healthy, organically grown produce, plants and landscaping services that employ organic products. Marvin's Organic Garden sits on 64 acres, and includes a retail center, 3/4 acre greenhouse, 19 cold weather plan storage units, and a 10-acre compost facility. They sell a large variety of indoor and outdoor plants, vegetables, and trees.
The center's customer base is generally residential, though some restaurants purchase produce there.
"A lot of families come to us looking for an alternative in gardening. And we get a large range of people from very young to very old, all types of ethnicities, very rich to very poor," Wes said.
In the last couple of years, Marvin's Organic Gardens is teaching its philosophy to area families. They've started a Giving Garden
program that offers garden tips and incentives (like store discounts) that encourage families to plant extra produce and give the overflow to local food pantries.
Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Wes Duren, Marvin's Organic Gardens co-owner