Melissa Wilsford’s three young children were getting ready to be out of the house during weekdays, and her husband, James, was a science teacher at Eden Prairie High School.
Wilsford decided to launch a career in something she had always loved: gardening and landscape design. She registered the business with the State of Minnesota in 2018 and then kicked things off in 2019.
Four years later, Rustic Hills has grown 16-fold.
“Our niche is a combination of sustainability and creating productive, edible landscapes for people to enjoy,” she said. “We also specialize in native flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees for pollinators and other wildlife, which are a natural addition to our food producing landscapes.”
Rustic Hills Garden Co. services range from planning and design for landscaping, edible gardens and ecological services, the latter consisting of specialized landscaping services focusing on sustainability and environmental protection.
Wilsford even grows her own seeds for use in the field.
She now has seven full and part-time employees, including Shannon Honken, who has been her top assistant from practically the beginning.
“Word-of-mouth has certainly helped,” Wilsford adds. “We have a solid following and find that more and more people are developing an interest in sustainability and developing land on their property which grows food.”
Rustic Hills holds workshops to introduce people to its philosophy and even offers “coaching” to get its customers up to speed on doing the ongoing tasks long after Rustic Hills has completed its initial efforts.
The company promotes shrubs, plants and trees which attract pollinators.
They now have customers from throughout the metropolitan area, yet Wilsford wants to retain its personal and “smaller” approach.
“All of us face challenges now and certainly will into the future when it comes to land and its use,” Wilsford adds. “The weather is more extreme. It’s getting hotter and drier and we will need more resilient land.”
Rustic Hills is developing programs that allow homeowners to have land designed to retain water, keep it on site and design and build storage systems for rainwater.
“I think of us as a specialized land use company, not just a gardening and landscape design firm,” Wilsford adds.
Her home (she still works out of the house, as do the other employees) abuts the Edenbrook Conservation Area in Eden Prairie and occupies over an acre.
Rustic Hills Garden Co. can be reached by calling 612-314-3298 or through its website at www.rustichillsgardenco.com.
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