SEYMOUR, Mo.– Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, a small company based in Wright County, ran a fundraiser to help Ukraine – a fundraiser that raised over $1 million.
Baker Creek opened their first store in Mansfield back in the early 2000s. Now, the company has expanded into a warehouse location in Seymour.
Jere Gettle, owner of Baker Creek, comes from a long line of farmers and gardeners. Gettle said his company first really started in his bedroom when he was 17.
“I grew up in the garden,” Gettle said. “I grew up with gardening parents and grandparents and uncles and aunts. I always wanted to do something with seeds or a seed company.”
Gettle said the company launched it’s online store in the late 1990s. From there, the company bloomed. Gettle said the warehouse opened just two years ago. Baker’s creek uses the warehouse as it’s main shipping location. For employees, they’ve enjoyed watching the seed company grow.
“In my second or third year here, I worked in shipping department and it was, if we could ship a thousand orders a day we were ecstatic that we could do that many orders in a day,” employee of 13 years Kathy McFarland said. “Now we can do 4,000 or 5,000 orders a day.”
When McFarland first started her work, she said everything was done by hand, marked with pencil and paper. Baker Creek ships to all 50 states and several other countries.
“In Ukraine, there’s definitely customers ordering from us every year,” Gettle said. “A lot of people that garden are passionate about the type of business we do. “
Gettle said Baker Creek wants to make change with all the seeds they sell.
“Each year we try to help out different projects,” Gettle said. “So many different projects and people and organizations that need help. And here recently, you know, with what’s happening in Ukraine, we kind of looked at it and we thought, ‘hey, we should do a fundraiser for it.'”
Gettle’s great-grandfather immigrated from Ukraine. He said they were forced out by the Russian government at that time, after living in Ukraine for about 100 years.
“He always talked about the rich soil in Ukraine and how much he missed his homeland,” Gettle said. “But, he got a farm here in America, in Colorado, and farmed there most of his life.”
Now, 44,000 orders later, Baker Creek raised $1.6 million for Ukraine in just two and a half days, with a goal of spreading support to Ukraine one seed at a time.
“When we found out the total of how much was raised, it was shocking,” Gettle said. “It was definitely more than we ever thought would come in. I kept trying to get on our website and I couldn’t get it to budge because there were so many people on it. It was like we were having over 100,000 people on it each day of the fundraiser. That’s about three times our normal volume.”
“I read a lot of the emails that come in and, you know, people were saying, ‘I already place my order, but I’m sure there’s a few more things that I need,'” McFarland said.
All hands are on deck at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company now, as the company works to send all seeds out to customers. The company hopes to have the orders out in the next two weeks.