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Business Spotlight: Eaker’s Nursery

Alisa Eaker with Popeye and Norris Eaker with giant elephant ear plants grown at Eaker's Nursery in Cherryville.

Alisa Eaker with Popeye and Norris Eaker with giant elephant ear plants grown at Eaker’s Nursery in Cherryville.

ELIZABETH HEFFNER
Staff Writer

Eaker’s Nursery and Tree Farm, located at 2760 Highway 274 in Cherryville, has been in business for nearly 30 years, but the land has been in the family for generations.
“We’re four generations of farmers,” co-owner and grower Alisa Eaker said. “My great-grandfather, Doras Eaker, grew cabbage.”
The Eaker family has a long history of farming the Cherryville land, having farmed tomatoes, strawberries, cabbages and more. The idea for a nursery, however, formed from the minds of Eaker’s father, Norris, her grandfather Glenn, and her uncle, Blair.
“They all had farmed (since) they were little, and they farmed tomatoes and strawberries,” Eaker said. “This was all tomato and strawberry fields. In 1985, we had gotten out of the tomato business, and we were doing about 20 acres of strawberries over here. Norris had a really good friend up the road who had a nursery, and he grew azaleas. (The friend) taught Norris and Norris’ brother, Blair, how to propagate. And it just really went from there.”
Eaker explained that “propagating,” is the act of cloning plants through the cuttings of the parent plant.
“We started out just growing azaleas and doing hanging baskets,” she said. “We are one of the only growers left in the county as far as growing a wide-scale number of plants. We’re probably looking at 200 or so plants that we grow from cuttings.”
Utilizing the science of propagation, Eaker’s Nursery provides residential and commercial landscaping services as well as retail sales. According to Eaker, her father spends most of his time as a grower, while she utilizes her talent for landscape design and implementation. Her mother, Burlene Eaker, handles the business side of the operation, balancing the books.
With the passing of Blair Eaker in 2006, Alisa and Norris Eaker are the sole owners of the business.
Alisa joined the business full-time in 1998.
“I like being outside; I like the creativity involved — the open palette of (designing) someone’s yard,” she said.”
Prior to joining the family business, Alisa worked as a counselor at Western Piedmont Community College.
“I could go to school for free up there, so I went ahead and got my horticulture degree while I was teaching up there,” she explained.
While Alisa joined the family business later in her career, she was introduced to farming at a young age.
“My dad had me picking tomatoes when I was eight,” she smiled. “I was as big as the bucket.”
The owners and employees at Eaker’s Nursery and Tree Farm are a tight-knit team of five.
“They work for me, but we’re family,” Alisa said. “Cody Heavner has worked with me since he was 13, and he’s turning 21 next month…and Rafael Martinez has been an employee here for 20 years. Tammy Short has been an employee 12 years.”
One advantage Eaker’s Nursery and Tree Farm has to chain-based home improvement and gardening stores is their employees’ wealth of knowledge and experience with both the horticulture and agriculture fields.
“When (customers call us), they want our knowledge, and you feel great at the end of the day,” Short said. “They make us feel needed, and that makes us feel good.”
Eaker’s Nursery and Tree Farm is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m.- noon. For more information about Eaker’s Nursery and Tree Farm, visit their Facebook page, “Alisa Eakers Nursery,” or call (704) 435-0767. For those interested in Eaker’s Nursery and Tree Farm mailing list, please send a request to eakersnursery1@aol.com.

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