Under the direction of head grower, Tom Wheeler, the growing teams throughout the Bell organization produce the best quality annuals and perennials available, anywhere. These plants are locally grown on site at Bell Nursery facilities, or through the Network of independent growers.
In addition to growing world-class annuals and perennials, Bell Nursery employs a purchasing team that supplements company production, bringing in the items we don't grow, such as orchids and indoor plants. Our dedicated regionally based team searches for the best grower partners, and checks in regularly to ensure product is on target and up to par, similar to how the range growers work with the Network. Product that does not meet Bell standards is not shipped to The Home Depot.
Once product is prime for retail, it's loaded from the greenhouses onto carts, and arrives at one of our distribution centers within hours. Bell's dedicated logistical teams work to ensure quality, pricing and quantities are accurate for each store. At this point, care of the plants turns over to the retail merchandising teams at The Home Depot.
As Bell Nursery’s sales at Home Depot exploded around the millennium, the company began to look at ways to increase its growing space, while limiting capital expenditures. The company founded a Network of growers, which today consists of nearly 30 family farms, located primarily on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Network growers are hands-on to ensure The Home Depot consumer gets a fresh plant that has been held until it is prime size and bloom stage.
Network growers add 65 acres of greenhouse production space to Bell operations, with limited investment. Network members are hands-on greenhouse owner operators with a vested interest in producing great plants. Growers are responsible for the quality of their crop, and sub-standard product is not accepted. Early on, some wondered if Bell could maintain plant quality while decentralizing its operations, but over the next decade, Network member’s personal commitment resulted in even higher quality plants.
Bell assists growers by providing initial training and through weekly visits by a Bell range grower to ensure plants are on track, and keeping to standards.
Many Network members are tobacco, wheat and chicken farmers turned growers. Bell offered them an opportunity to utilize a small portion of their land to expand operations while growing flowers fewer than six months each year. Network members are typical American families with two, sometimes three generations working together in the greenhouses. They have diversified risk and added to the farm’s net income, and in doing so, strengthened their local economies.
Plants generally travel less than 200 miles from greenhouse to retail, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and using less fuel. Successful family farms protect open space from development and preserve an American way of life, while providing customer with great quality, feel-good plants.