Noted nationally for its “earth friendly” products, Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply is now under the ownership of Bill and Jill Hageman.
Native Californians, the Hagemans draw on Bill’s background in banking and as an entrepreneur, along with Jill’s experience as a teacher, to keep the operation running smoothly. Plus, they and their children, 10-year-old Abby and 9-year-old Jack, have a deep interest in organic gardening.
“Along with their grandmother,” Bill said. “We’ve all dealt with Peaceful Valley, trying different types of soil, fertilizer and seeds.”
Former owner Pattie Boudier — who in 1996 bought the business, now at 125 Clydesdale Court — with her husband Eric, said even with a dedicated staff keeping business on the upswing since Eric’s death in 2018, “It’s been a challenge, and it’s really time for me to retire.”
But not right away. She’s agreed to stay on as an employee to help with the transition.
“We’ve become real friends,” Boudier said of the Hagemans, “and want to continue the legacy of Peaceful Valley and the Groworganic.com website. And their children, Abby and Jack, spend hours talking about the fruits and vegetables they harvest. It reminds me of our son and his friends doing the same thing 24 years ago.”
When the business was established in 1976 on Peaceful Valley Road in Nevada City, organic gardening (growing without manufactured chemicals and nurturing the soil) was largely considered the domain of “hippies.”
But interest among the expanding number of organic farmers and gardeners was enough that employees had to meet customers at the end of the road, a quarter-mile away, to avoid traffic congestion.
The site itself had a small garage as its office and employees’ bathroom needs were served with an outhouse. Compared to today’s glossy catalog and online website, the fledgling business then offered a four-page typed catalog.
Today Peaceful Valley lays claim to being one of the nation’s largest organic farm and garden suppliers, offering natural weed and pest controls, soil amendments, fertilizers and non-GMO organic vegetable seeds (produced through a natural cultivation process) packaged at the organic-certified nursery.
Plus, it offers tools, growing supplies, irrigation and harvesting equipment, and numerous other growing aids.
The business employs 30 to 60 people, depending on the season. It has a 2,500-square-foot store, 3,000-square-foot office and a 14,000-square-foot multi-level warehouse.
Business is thriving locally and online, where there are over 300 “how-to” videos explaining various horticultural techniques.
This spring the pandemic caused an overwhelming demand for seeds and plants.
“People worry about food and they start gardening,” Boudier smiles, while shaking her head. “We couldn’t fill all our orders or get seed packets printed fast enough. Some seeds were even sent out in plain brown wrappers. We had to put a $100 minimum on new orders, but even that didn’t slow things down.”
The most popular seeds were Bloomsdale spinach, Calabrese broccoli, Genovese basil and Scarlet Nantes carrots.
As large and successful as it has become, its new owners say the original focus at Peaceful Valley remains the same.
“We’re thrilled to carry on the Boudier legacy,” Jill said, “and we’re committed to helping all our customers ‘grow organic’ for life.”
Dick Tracy is a former employee of the Sacramento Bee and a member of The Union Editorial Board. He lives in Nevada County.