By Daniel E. McGonigle
The Caledonia Argus
Sixty-five years ago, Judith Lind had a dream... to grow and sell flowers.
“She lived at the top of a bluff in rural Houston County where there was very little traffic,” recalls son Ben.
Having young children at the time, Ben being one of them, Lind worked to cultivate her dream which would later become “Alpine Nursery.”
“Since the public couldn’t come to her, she took her perennials, mostly day lilies along with her children, to the farmer’s market in La Crosse,” Ben said.
Later, when the Oscar Carlson farm on Highway 76 was for sale, she and her husband, Alvie, decided it would be a good place to live, farm and build Alpine Nursery.
Thirty-five years later, Ben along with his wife Linda and their children Jenny and Kristie, bought the farm and nursery and moved to Houston.
“The nursery looks a bit different now, Linda smiled.
The couple transformed the property and the business into what it is today, taking the lean-to greenhouse that was located on the side of the garage and turning it into a property with several greenhouses that are state of the art.
“We have a few more greenhouses these days but our philosophy remains the same as it has always been,” Linda said. “We want to give our customers personal service, good advice and great plants at great prices.”
However, all good things must come to an end.
Final season in business
“We’ve decided that it is time to retire and this will be our last season,” Linda said. “We plan to be in full operation until September 15.”
The couple simply agreed that it’s time.
“We’ll miss the friends and the customers we’ve really gotten to know so well over the years,” Linda said. “We are proud of what we’ve accomplished, and we’ve had fun doing it.”
Daughters Jenny and Kristie, who have gone on to get married and have careers and families of their own, have brought their own children up with the benefit of putting their hands in the dirt.
“They are a big part of our business and our employees are like family,” Linda said.
Kristie, her husband Brent (Fingerson) and their sons Liam and Drake, have played an active role in the growth of Alpine Nursery as did Jennifer, her husband John (Mueller) and their daughter Ella.
“Jennifer always covered just whatever we needed done,” smiled a proud mom.
Marlin Schultz, next door neighbors to the Linds and Ben’s classmate, has worked with them for several years.
“He always used to just walk over and help so one day we said ‘we better start paying him,’” Linda said.
Chad Jacob has worked with the Linds since he was 14 years old.
Now 21, Linda said, “we couldn’t do this without him.”
Designer Karla Beckman gets the nursery ready each season and gets it looking its very best.
Barb Hefte was the first person that the Linds hired.
“She keeps things moving,” Linda said.
Morgan Beckman is a neighbor and high school student who helps out over the summers.
And Eric Hefte, Barb’s husband, has worked with the couple for a few years.
“When he sold his business, Caledonia Oil, I think he was getting on Barb’s nerves with all the tinkering he was doing around his own house so she suggested he come down here and work off some of that steam with us,” Linda laughed.
Truly a family business and a one of a kind gem in the community of Houston, the Linds will be as sad to close as we are to see them close.
“We appreciate the opportunity you have given us these past 65 years to be of service to you and your families,” Linda said. “We will miss the excitement of each new season, but we look forward to retirement and spending more time with our family.”