“Let me show you the most reliable piece of machinery I have,” said John Frazier as he welcomed visitors into the machine shed at Frazier Nursery. “You wouldn’t believe how handy this thing is.”
Every farmer has their pride and joy piece of equipment. More often than not, it’s the tried and true hunk of metal that they can’t justify getting rid of. The one on which they rest their hand and say, “They don’t make them like this anymore.” And John is no different.
The hunk of metal, as it turns out, is actually a mechanical tree planter that speeds up planting of tree seedlings. Mounted on the back of their John Deere 4320, the planter is simple and efficient in design, with a rolling coulter to cut through the ground, a trencher that functions like a moldboard plow, and a press wheel to backfill soil around the seedling.
As John beams with pride about his mechanical tree planter, his son, Alex, recalls a different, but somewhat similar emotion. “I might not have loved it back then, but I spent a lot of time as a kid sitting on this thing planting trees,” Alex reminisced. “This is my childhood.” Running the mechanical tree planter is a two-person job – the perfect job for a father and son.
John and Alex are the dynamic father-son duo at Frazier Nursery. They trade tasks and jokes throughout the day – okay, mostly John jokes and Alex switches between a reluctant chuckle and a not-so-subtle eye roll towards his Dad, as most kids do.
John and his late-wife Carolyn have been building and growing Frazier Nursery since the late 1970s. The nursery sits on a beautiful piece of ground right outside of Vinton, with machine sheds and a humble office atop a small hill off Highway E24. Alex officially joined the family business in 2012 after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, although he jokes he became full-time just after his seventh birthday. The Frazier Nursery crew is rounded out by Alex’s wife Liz and their sleepy “guard” dog, KC, who barely lifts her head in acknowledgment of a visitor.
When Iowa Select Farms began talking with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) about participating in the Green Farmstead Partner Program, we were specific in our search.
“We knew it was important to Iowa Select Farms to partner with an Iowa company with strong roots in the state,” said Brian Waddingham, executive director at CSIF. “It was equally as important to find a nursery that could handle the substantial demand. It’s a big task to plant thousands of trees in a short period of time. We knew that Frazier Nursery could handle it.”
The rest is history.
Since late 2018, Alex and John have been working with the Iowa Select Farms “Project Green” team to make plans for planting thousands of trees at our pig farms as part of CSIF’s Green Farmstead Partner Program. As Mother Nature allows, they’ve put action plans in place to get the trees planted.
“As most farmers know, these past two springs have been especially wet,” said Alex. “It hasn’t made our job the easiest, but we’re extremely committed to Project Green.” Along with blue eyes, a passion for windbreaks on farms has clearly been passed along from John to Alex.
We’re not sure what John and Alex are up to on Father’s Day, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Alex is out mowing a patch of ground and John is tending to his grove of Gingko trees—the only thing he may be more proud of than the mechanical tree planter. No offense, Alex.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone. Whether you’re able to spend the day with your Dad or father-figure, we hope it’s a special one.
This story is dedicated to the memory of Carolyn Frazier, who peacefully passed away in her home on May 28 after a fearless battle with cancer.