The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company is just as eager as Seymour residents to have the new warehouse up and running. Located just north of U.S. 60, the project has taken much longer than expected to complete.
Originally hoping to have the facility operational before the 2020-21 seed mail-order season, the company was met with many obstacles in the early phases of the construction process. The company now expects to move its warehouse operations to Seymour sometime this coming summer.
Unusually rainy and stormy weather that included record rainfall amounts during the early spring of 2020 delayed the excavation process of getting the ground ready for building.
Once the weather cooperated during the early summer, another problem had arisen in the form of a global pandemic that caused long delays in obtaining building materials and supplies. It took 10 weeks just to get the construction iron delivered. Those past major obstacles have relented enough that the building is now progressing to the point that Seymour residents are seeing a huge building and wanting to know what it will include.
The current building measures 150 feet by 350 feet, which will primarily be used for seed packing and order fulfillment.
However, Baker Creek owner Jere Gettle has included a number of fascinating particulars to the building.
One such example is a garden room with state-of-the-art lights ideal for both growing plants and photographing them.
Gettle also has a penchant for Asian influence, as evidenced by his wide offering of Asian varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seeds. One interior room in the new building will feature Shogi doors, often used in Japanese architecture to softly diffuse light throughout an area. The doors consist of lattice frames covered with a tough, translucent white paper.
The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company was founded by Jere Gettle on his family’s farm near Mansfield in 1997.
In the 24 years following the mailing of his first catalog, the company has grown by leaps and bounds each year.
The first big growth spurt came in the year 2000 when people were talking about “Y2K” and fearing that the change into a new millennium would crash computers and disrupt the food supply. People began saving seeds and gardening.
While the feared crash did not happen, the new century did spark an increased interest in gardening that continued to grow every year.
Another huge growth spurt occurred 20 years later when the world experienced a global pandemic in 2020. Home gardening greatly increased again, primarily for two reasons.
The first reason is that once again people were concerned that the food-supply chains would be disrupted, leaving many people without food. Fear caused many people to begin purchasing and saving seeds, as well as growing their own food. Secondly, the pandemic was accompanied by a massive set of restrictions that limited social interaction, transportation, etc. in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Most schools and many businesses shut down for a few to several months and even into the next year. People had time to search the Internet for seed sources and to actually begin growing plants while stuck at home.
Baker Creek had already purchased land and was planning to expand the business to Seymour before the onset of the pandemic.
The sudden and huge increase in seed sales quickly made it apparent that the building would need to be larger than originally planned to handle the increase in orders.
The company purchased 30 more adjoining acres and made plans to double the size of the building. Work is now under way to construct a second building, also 150 feet by 350 feet, that will attach to the north wall of the existing building that is nearing completion. The acquisition of the additional land will also allow for the construction of 30 new greenhouses, each one to be 2,700 square feet.
Gettle has always been interested in making a positive contribution to local communities he serves, and for this project, all excavation and construction were done with local labor whenever possible.
James Construction, owned by Kenny James, served as the general contractor.
Fab Worx, located right next door to the new Baker Creek building, is doing all of the interior steel fabrication.
Chief Project Engineer Larry Ledden points out that the building is considered an essential building and construction adheres to very high standards. He is complimentary of James and his construction crew, as well as of all local crews that have been a part of this large building project.
Gettle says that he hopes to have the first phase of the project up and running this summer.
The first two seed-packing machines have now been moved from the Mansfield warehouse to the new facility in Seymour. An additional two seed-packing machines have been ordered and will be installed this summer.
It is expected that all seed packing for the 2022 growing season will be done at the Seymour location.
Eventually, all the order fulfillment operations will also be moved to Seymour. With 250 feet of pick/pack lines, the new facility will be able to successfully handle the current
and expected increase in orders.