Hi, my name is Michael Wellik. I prefer to be called Mike. I’m trained as an economic entomologist but I have done a variety of things. I grew up on a livestock farm in Northern Iowa, the oldest of 8 kids. Growing things is in my blood.
I worked for two universities, Iowa State and Texas A&M. When the PhD program I was in was discontinued I took a job with a pesticide manufacturer. For 8 years I conducted research and was involved with sales. The traveling life wasn’t for me so I got involved with horticulture. I built greenhouses and started growing and selling ornamentals like poinsettias, Easter flowers and bedding plants. Perennials were just starting to show up in commerce so I grew perennials.
It wasn’t long and I figured out that the margins were low and competition was brutal. I had always wanted to grow strawberries. I remember picking strawberries in my mother’s large patch. One of my trips to Michigan took me to the UP. I met a family that had given each of their children some land to grow pick-your-own strawberries. This was their summer work and what they made was to be set aside for their college educations. It seemed like a lucrative business and sparked my interest in learning 更多 关于 strawberries.
While growing the perennials and other crops in my greenhouses I decided to give it a shot to grow strawberries vertically in a section of the greenhouse. I used 1,000 square feet to start. This was to be a winter crop. I figured I could get a premium for the berries out of season. It turned out that back then there wasn’t a market for the berries, but I learned a lot. One thing I learned was that there are 更多 than hybrid strawberries in the world. I found alpines and musk strawberries. Their flavor and aroma hooked me for life.
I have been collecting and growing alpine strawberries and other gourmet types of strawberries for over 30 years now. I sold some plants over the years through classified ads in garden magazines. My search for cultivars was a success over time. I have collected over 60 cultivars of alpine strawberries.
So, how did I get in the business? I told my wife a bunch of years ago that this is the perfect online product. I could sell seeds, plants and fruit. For a few years I went the fruit route. I grew them for a 5 star restaurant in Philadelphia. I shipped fruit around the country as well.
I had told my wife that when I retired I was going to sell plants and seeds. I was working for a biotech company and it became a call center. I couldn’t take it so I quit, came home and told my wife that I’m retired and now I’m going to sell plants and seeds. That was 14 years ago. Since retiring, I am selling seeds that I get from commercial sources in Europe and seeds that I save of rare cultivars.