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Supplier Showcase: Bonnie Plants Helps Shape the Future of Gardening With a Focus on Giving Back
“There’s nothing quite like growing delicious, fresh food, right at home,” says Mike Sutterer, president and CEO of Bonnie Plants. As an exclusive supplier for The Home Depot and the largest national supplier of vegetable and herb plants in the U.S., Bonnie grows more than 300 varieties at 87 growing stations that service all 50 states.
President and CEO Mike Sutterer
“We were founded back in 1918 by Bonnie and Livingston Paulk – yes, there actually was a ‘Bonnie’ who founded Bonnie Plants. And they began with just two pounds of cabbage seeds and $50,” says Mike. “They had a focus on giving back to the community, which they achieved by setting aside acreage to donate food.”
Union Springs, Alabama, is where Bonnie Plants was born and is headquartered. It’s also the location of the Bonnie Plants Trial Garden. “The trial garden provides fertile ground for gathering hands-on knowledge about vegetable and herb plants – ones we currently offer, and others we’re considering for future seasons,” says Mike.
Every trial creates produce, and Bonnie Plants has long had a plan in place to make sure it’s put to good use. “The harvest from [our] trial garden is donated to local food pantries,” says Mike. “This provides thousands of pounds of fresh, healthy vegetables to those impacted by food insecurity.” In fact, Bonnie has a partnership with AmpleHarvest.org to engage gardeners to donate their own home-grown harvest surplus to local food pantries.
This creates an especially unique opportunity for gardeners who are new to the industry. According to the National Gardening Association, 2021 saw 18.3 million new gardeners begin growing at home – most of which were millennials. “Our industry has wondered for years if or how these younger consumers would engage in gardening,” says Mike. “Now our collective focus is keeping them engaged.”
With a focus on growing and delivering new and unique varieties to consumers, Bonnie has invested heavily in research and development. Whether expanding multi-million-dollar greenhouse facilities or strengthening delivery, Bonnie Plants is making growing a garden simple, accessible and attainable.
Mike says part of that success comes from strong partnerships. “Our relationship with Home Depot – our longest-tenured big box retail partner – goes back decades. They were critical in Bonnie expanding from a smaller regional grower into the national brand that we are today.”
No matter how large they’ve grown, Bonnie is always looking back to the example set by their founders more than 100 years ago. “While we’re not family-owned anymore, we've always stayed true to our family roots. Those principles live in our mission today,” says Mike.
To learn more about Bonnie Plants, visit bonnieplants.com.