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A Czechoslovakian immigrant named Ernest E. Tosovsky, Sr. came to the United States with his mother, Emily, as a boy in 1908. His father, a colonel in the Czechoslovakian army, escaped from the German takeover and fled to the United States. Emmanuel Tosovsky came to Edwardsville, a large Czech community, and was given a job in a coal mine. He saved up enough money to bring his wife, Emily, and four-year-old son, Ernest to the United States. When Emily and Ernest finally arrived in Edwardsville, they learned that Emmanuel had been killed 5 days prior in a coal mining accident. Having no where to go and no way to make a living, members of the immigrant Czech community took young Ernest and his mother into their homes. His mother would later remarry a local man who owned a truck-farming business. Ernest’s stepfather taught him everything he knew about his business and would later sell his farm to Ernest Sr. where the foundation of Home Nursery would begin.
By 1921, Ernest Sr. was growing vegetables and berries in experimental hot beds, selling his products to members of the local community. Seeing this as a growing opportunity, Ernest Sr. expanded into flowers, fruit trees, and ornamental plants on the land adjacent to his home. Home Nursery grew cut flowers and bedding plants in a greenhouse facility constructed sometime between 1921 and 1925. In 1928, Ernest Sr. opened his first retail store. Over the next 36 years four stores were owned and operated in the St. Louis metro east area and two stores were leased. The retail stores were full line florists, garden centers and landscape divisions. In order to supply the retail flower shops and garden centers with product to sell.
As time passed, Ernest Sr. and his sons, Ernest Jr. and Chuck, saw the vision to sell plants to wholesale customers. A small wholesale business was developed in conjunction with the retail operations. Seeing this as another opportunity for growth, a strong emphasis was placed on the wholesale market during the 1950’s. In the early 1950’s, Ernie Jr. and Chuck began growing nursery stock in containers on the ground next to Ernie Sr.’s home. Chuck and Ernie sold their products to local businesses using 2 two-ton trucks to deliver plant material. Approximately 335 acres were planted with field grown evergreens, trees and shrubs during the years of 1955-1970. In order to supply the nursery with quality cuttings and grafts, Home Nursery operated a propagation department adjacent to Ernie Sr.’s home. This operation would be expanded and moved to a 45 acre facility in 1980. As the wholesale business steadily grew all but one retail store would close by 1984.
In 1970 a major expansion program started with the purchase of 230 acres in Albers, IL. The water supply was plentiful and the land was well suited for growing plant material. This new land purchase would become the production farm for Home Nursery, Inc. in 1972. The rose, container, field and shipping operations would be the first departments moved to the Albers farm.
Container grown stock increased from 13 acres to 60 after the purchase of the Albers farm and 120 acres of this new land would be devoted to field production.
Today, Home Nursery, Inc.’s wholesale operation consists of:
Home Nursery, Inc. currently markets to 13 Midwestern states. We service our customers with five outside sales representatives, two contracted sales representatives and one Customer Service Sales Coordinator. Our Albers farm production consists of 385 acres used for field and container production with about 150 acres available for future production. During the peak seasons, Home Nursery employs approximately 115 people while at non-peak season we employed approximately 90.
Our third generation of ownership is taking the reigns and following in the footsteps of the Tosovsky men that came before her. Engrained are the same principles and values as when the company first began over 100 years ago along with a new excitement of the opportunities that are waiting to be explored.
Thank you for letting us share our company’s beginning with you. We look forward to a continuous growing relationship full of wonderful opportunities and cherished memories.