The horticulture business isn’t an easy one, with unpredictable weather, pesky insects, destructive diseases, and consumer preferences that change as quickly as breeders create new plant varieties.
But for the five generations of the Bailey family that have owned Minnesota-based Bailey Nurseries for more than 110 years, it’s a business that’s been well worth the challenges.
“I think in my grandfather’s heart, he was a farmer,” says Melissa Cullen, whose grandparents created the Gordon and Margaret Bailey Foundation to give back to the industry they loved. “He was always very innovative, creating new ways to be more efficient.”
The foundation recently gave $1 million to the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) for undergraduate and graduate students studying horticulture. The gift, which supports the U’s Driven campaign, nearly doubles the annual amount of scholarship money available to those students.
Ten percent of the gift will fund student experiences, including field studies and travel to conferences.
“I think my grandparents would be excited to know they are helping young people who will become the new leaders in this industry,” Cullen says. “The horticulture industry was such a big part of their lives, and this seems like a natural fit.”