We’re horticulturalists and nurserymen. But we think of ourselves as careful farmers.

Sustainability and earth-friendly practices are not new to us or a recent initiative. Since 1897, we have been caring stewards of our growing fields, which now number almost 1800 acres, as well as good neighbors to the many family farms that make southern Wisconsin famous for its premium dairy products. Not only is this ethically correct. It is good business. Why?

It has been our experience over the past century—and science consistently confirms—that doing things the most eco-friendly way is ultimately the most efficient way, and therefore the most cost-effective way. This is good for you in terms of the relative value we are able to provide. And it is good for the livelihood and job security of our 150+ employee owners. Learn about some of our initiatives:

Our Buildings

Keeping perennials at the correct temperature for growing and storage is energy intensive. Beyond energy-saving construction, insulation, and management of our production and storage facilities, we significantly reduce our energy consumption by collecting expended lubricating oil from our many machines and using it as heating fuel. But we do not stop there. Using a device designed and built by one of our owner-employees, we compress the steel oil filters, purging even more of the oil for recycling, which then allows us to recycle the filters themselves as scrap steel. This puts to economic use what would otherwise be a pollutant, which is good for the land, good for our 150+ owner-employees, and ultimately good you as our customer.

Our roof-runoff rainwater gardens

Our buildings are necessarily huge and have commensurately big roofs. Rainwater pouring off them can be an ecological problem or an earth-friendly asset. We chose the latter. Our state-of-the-art distribution system gently diverts the roof water into “rain gardens.” These are planted with flowers and other greenery that absorb rainwater rather than have it run off to pollute and scour the landscape. It also increases the amount of water that filters into the ground, recharging the local aquifer; protects our neighbors from flooding and drainage problems; protects nearby streams and lakes from stray pollutants; and provides valuable habitat for birds, butterflies, and many beneficial insects. Interested in a rain garden for your own home or business? We can do that.

Nursery farmland management

When you think about it, florae grown in nurseries spend a significant amount of time in potting containers in order to be robust and healthy for eventual shipment. This necessarily increases the need for irrigation and fertilizer, which is often problematic with nurseries that are minimally concerned about the environment. In contrast, we only grow florae best suited to our geographical region and perennial them at optimal times based on historic weather data. We carefully monitor and quantify irrigation and fertilizer inputs to ensure neither is in excess of what is optimal for the particular flora and the surrounding environment. We space the containers themselves to receive the optimal irrigation with the least amount of water. We take steps to restrict the movement of nutrients and irrigation-water away from our farmlands and into the surrounding environment. And that is just some of it.

Coming Soon! Our organically-certified aronia shrubs and berries

We have begun cultivating organically-certified aronia on our farms in southern Wisconsin, a dual-purpose perennial that is ideal for edible landscaping. It is a deciduous shrub known as chokeberry or black chokeberry and sometimes erroneously called chokecherry.

  • Aronia for landscaping: Aronia or chokeberry or black chokeberry has been historically prized by Wisconsin landscape architects for its clusters of creamy white flowers in late spring; and for its colorful flame-colored foliage in autumn, which contrasts against the black chokeberries.
  • Aronia as a food ingredient: Aronia or chokeberry or black chokeberry is prized for its dark-colored, pungently flavored aronia juice, either alone or blended with other fruit juices such as grape or apple. It is also added to syrups, teas, and soft spreads. The dark aronia berry is even used as a food coloring.
  • Aronia as a health food: The health benefits of aronia juice lie in its very high levels of anthocyanins and flavonoids, which are five-to-ten times higher than for cranberry juice. Aronia juice is also high in beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants, polyphenols, minerals, and vitamins, many of which are believed to fight cancer and cardiac disease.
  • Aronia as a local food source: Aronia was well known to natives and early settlers in the northern regions of what is now the United States. But it has not been cultivated commercially in this country since the end of the 19th century. Up until recently, aronia has chiefly come from Denmark, Eastern Europe, and Siberia: many, many food-miles away.

Contact us about the availability of McKay organically-certified aronia shrubs and berries-wholesale or through McKay Nursery Online.