Why we started Rugged Root
We have dozens of beliefs driving us to operate Rugged Root. We believe that owning our own business will allow us to be more self-sufficient. That it will strengthen our family, emotionally and financially. We believe that we can grow healthier food than large corporations can… Because we care about us more than they do.
There are so many different beliefs that are pulling us towards this business that limiting our “WHY” to a single reason is next to impossible. We believe that our children need to know where their food comes from, and how to obtain it when the grocery store and surrounding restaurants are out… We believe that they need to take responsibility for their own future. We also believe that, although there is a lot of hype regarding “the environment”, there are clear signs that many people make the world a worse place by the way they treat it, and we believe we can do better.
We believe that ingenuity, capitalism, and self-interest can be used for good as well as ill effect…
Now we are getting somewhere… after considerable discussion, we determined that the underlying belief that drives us is that:
“We believe that people can solve the world’s problems if we harmonize with nature instead of trying to conquer it.“
This one statement underlies the various reasons we started this family-run business.
We are a family run natural agriculture business that uses Permaculture design techniques to make our corner of the world a better place. We currently specialize in productive plant nursery stock. We are currently working to expand into livestock, produce, and so much more. So be sure to follow our progress.
We are located on 19 acres of beautifully rolling land a few miles west of Montgomery City, in Montgomery County, Missouri. The property has been in our family for 3 generations. However for the 25 years prior to us moving here, it was primarily used as a weekend getaway. Centered in prime farmland, there is a very small home with a well, workshop, pond, (scenic) silo, and a smattering of out buildings.
We are in the process of converting the property back into a “working farm”. In time, we plan to raise the majority of our own food and supplies on this land. Including meats, vegetables, fruits, fibers, fodder, eggs, wood, nursery stock, etc.. We intend to do this in a beyond-organic fashion, with enough surplus to supply like-minded families.
Prior to our family owning the site, it was the home of a couple (John and Helen Henderson) whom worked the land, including many of the surrounding farms for countless years. There are many echoes of their impacts on this place… the small home they built in 1964 with the long forgotten rain cistern recently discovered, the sheep shed, remnants of a hog barn and the other building foundations that are here… They all speak to a lifetime of living off the land. We strive to do the same.
According to a neighbor, “well off” people from Saint Louis would come out here to hunt, including several players for the Cardinals. Apparently, one of those groups of hunters came out here and, immediately after getting permission to hunt, they started firing off rounds before even leaving the yard. Turns out that they had mistaken the old farmer’s guineas for pheasants and were doing their best to shoot them. We love hearing about these types of stories, but I digress…
This property has some of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen. That is one of our most favorite features of this place. You can expect us to share them… often… on social media and here.
Our nursery is probably not what many would consider a typical nursery. We are a small, family run operation. We have our nursery beds and plant stock scattered throughout our home’s relatively small yard. At any given time we have hundreds if not thousands of small trees and shrubs growing on our quarter of an acre.
We have often been asked about having so many trees and shrubs in our little yard. “Why…?” “How…?” The ‘why’ is simple, we believe that people can solve the world’s problems if we harmonize with nature instead of trying to conquer it… and the world needs more trees.
The ‘how’ requires a bit more explanation. It all started with a half dozen blackberry plants and a half dozen raspberry plants given to us in memory of a grandparent. Our ‘problem’ was how best to grow them. When we researched growing techniques, two very different ideologies became apparent. The first was the labor intensive agricultural model (till, plant, spray, weed, worry, etc.). The other was the thought intensive permaculture model (plan, plant, leave alone…). We went with the latter option… We think very carefully about where we put our trees, and then we let nature work. The weak plants are not coddled into surviving. If they don’t thrive on their own, they go back to feed the soil. So the answer to “How…?” is that we dig a hole and we plant it… then we wait as patiently as we possibly can, fighting the urge to just ‘DO something’.
Unfortunately, the size of our nursery is not the only deviation from the typical nursery model. Although many people are beginning to see that the industrial agriculture process is destructive and poisonous. Most are not aware that the edible and ornamental plants are generally raised in equally poor conditions. The nursery industry is incredibly damaging to the environment. In almost all nurseries you can find rampant use of synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and excessive use of plastic and peat moss. Plants are sold in the summer, at their weakest time of the year, while pumped full of nitrogen to make them appear lush and full so the buyer assumes they’re healthy. Meanwhile their roots are often just beginning to strangle themselves because they’re crammed into a circular pot filled with peat moss and chemicals.
At Rugged Root our trees and plants are grown in cooperation with nature. We believe that the best way to have healthy plants is to grow them in soil teeming with healthy microorganisms. Our nursery beds are mostly nestled around our chicken coop. This is so we can easily amend the soil with our composted mixture of waste plant material, food scraps, manure, and wood chips. This compost is our primary soil amendment. Because we are so small, we have to assist nature with performing the task of bringing the compost to the plants (opportunity for future improvement).
We have never used artificial fertilizers… and we never will. We also never spray… anything… ever. Weed control is achieved through a thick mulch of wood chips, hand pulling, and judicious use of fire. We feed our soil only that which comes from nature, such as waste wood chips, manure, and leaf mold. In the few years we’ve been on this property we have seen a dramatic improvement in the soil health. We do everything we can to protect it from being destroyed by the elements by keeping it covered.
Because our soil is so healthy, it is teeming with microbial life. And when we dig up the plants in the fall and early spring, the roots are generally covered in symbiotic fungal mycelium.
Regardless of when you place your order, we will only dig up your plants when nature says its time. Generally speaking this is in the fall and spring, while they are dormant. This varies a bit from species to species, but generally speaking plants do better when they are disturbed during dormancy than when disturbed during other times of the year.
We proudly offer only our healthiest plants for sale.