Piloting a California nursery through COVID, drought, and wildfires

Haydi Danielson ’84, a graduate of Yale SOM and the Yale School of the Environment, is the co-owner of Boething Treeland Farms, a commercial nursery in California that her parents started in 1952. She discussed leading a family business through the COVID-19 pandemic and the drought and wildfires affecting her home state.

"We have been fortunate that very few of our employees have contracted COVID. As a company with over 500 employees, we do not qualify for PPP benefits, but have made it through the pandemic reasonably well so far. Agriculture is considered to be an essential business, so we have been able to continue working throughout the pandemic, and our employees have not missed very much time at all.

"Since the spring of last year when COVID caused lockdowns, we’ve seen demand for our plants actually increase. People who had never gardened before began gardening. We grow plants, shrubs, trees, perennials, and succulents for landscape contractors, landscape architects, and retail garden centers. There has been a big surge in demand from our retail garden center customers. That’s still persisting. That has been the silver lining of the pandemic for our industry."

"Because of the recent periods of drought, there is an increased demand for drought-tolerant species, but we’ve been growing those for decades, so it hasn’t significantly changed our plant palette or the nature of our business. Over half of the 1,000 varieties of plants we grow are low-water-use plants." 

"Texas, Oregon, and Washington all had big winter storms in 2020-2021. A lot of nursery stock was destroyed in those states. That has created a lot of demand for California plants too. As a result, the California nursery industry is having to create more inventory than it has created in the past several years."

Read the complete article at www.insights.som.yale.edu.

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