Growing Strong

Jim Graeler, owner of Chesterfield Valley Nursery


Cultivating a Dream: Growing up on a farm, I always loved working outside. I went to Southeast Missouri State University and majored in horticulture with an emphasis on landscape design. My summer jobs were always working outside or subcontracting. When I graduated, I knew I wanted to work for myself. At first, I did a lot of work for members of my church and got a lot of jobs through word of mouth. I also made a lot of mistakes during this time, and I had to decide what was important and to make a commitment. Even though this was a really hard time, I learned so much in the struggles.

A Deep Exhale: When I first started planning our nursery, the overarching goal was to create a place where people could come out, walk around and enjoy the beauty of the unique plants. I wanted to create a place to relax and exhale from life’s challenges. Our goal in designing someone’s landscape is the same. Create a space that our clients are drawn to, a space that has a unique beauty that represents them; a space that brings a smile.

Rooted in Perseverance: We started out as a very small work force. I was doing design and installation and my sister, Deb, took care of the books, and we had our first “nursery” in my parents’ garden; slowly we grew a little each year and even started a small tree farm. But in July of 1993 the flood hit us. We lost a lot and basically had to start over. I returned back to our makeshift office at my sister’s home. She came out with a note that the pastor of Bonhomme Presbyterian Church wanted to talk. I called him and he said his congregation wanted to help; it was an answer to my prayer. Today, we have evolved into an organization with around 55 employees, 12 acres of beautiful nursery stock and a desire to create amazing landscapes for our wonderful customers.

What makes your team special? With our team, words like character, integrity, dedication and humility immediately come to mind.  My dad taught me a lot of things, one of those was the value of hard work. Our team works hard for our clients, and they’re all sincerely just good people. I am blessed to have such a talented group of individuals to care for our customers.