Breeden Family Farms expands to offer supplies at wholesale prices

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
On April 1, Derry and Celia Breeden tied open the flaps to one of their 90 Breeden Family Farms (BFF Nursery) greenhouses so local residents could start their spring planting.
After acquiring a portion of the former Van Essen Nursery last year, the couple began learning the business of selling plants wholesale. But this year they expanded that by offering their supply for local retail sales at wholesale prices.
The Breedens, who aren’t entirely new to farming, were working for child service organizations when the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to work from home.
“It kind of gave us some time to really reflect on what it is we want to do with our lives,” Derry said.

DERRY BREEDEN, right, takes a look at what customer Jan Lowther selected during her visit to his newly-opened nursery stand.

Derry had grown up on a Eugene dairy goat and fruit tree farm while Celia was raised in Corvallis by a family of landscapers. As such, they began reflecting on their roots and realized they wanted to live in the country on land they could use as a revenue source.
“We grew up with an agrarian background, and we really have a love for working with our hands, so it’s always been a passion of ours,” he said. “When we added it all together, it equaled a nursery.”
And Van Essen Nursery happened to be for sale at the time. Dave and Leeanne Van Essen opened it in 1976 with 10 acres on River Drive, eventually growing it to 300. Last year, they retired and sold parts of the 45-year-old business to multiple buyers, including the Breedens, who acquired the original 10 acres and started Breeden Family Farms.
The Breedens took on more than they’d originally anticipated, according to Derry, so Dave Van Essen agreed to step in as a consultant and mentor.
“It’s been an absolutely incredible relationship we’ve had with him,” Derry said.
At the start of the couple’s new life last year, friends and family helped work the farm.
“Many summer nights we were out long after sunset working the potting machine, repairing equipment that was totally foreign to us, and loading and unloading hundreds of freshly potted flowers into the greenhouses,” Celia said.

Celia Breeden (center), with baby Sylvia Ann in tow, scans a plant for Melinda and Gabe Gitnes.

Now they have employees for most of the outdoor labor so they can focus on sales and bookkeeping, while their 6-month-old daughter Sylvia Ann plays in what Celia calls the girl’s “executive crib.”
“It’s been beautiful to discover and rely on each other’s skills as we learn how to run a new business together,” she said.
As a wholesaler, BFF supplies perennials, shrubs and small trees. The weekend farm stand offers veggie starts, berry bushes, fruit trees, flower baskets and perennials such as azalea, forsythia, lilac, mahonia and rhododendron.
“We want Breeden Family Farm Stand to be the place for plant lovers, hobby gardeners and self-sufficient enthusiasts to have access to a diverse array of high-quality organic seed grown veggie starts, at a low-cost price range that won’t break the bank,” Derry said.
The Breedens call what they’re offering a unique concept because they set aside days to create a place to help people find plants at wholesale prices, which rising inflation has made particularly important. They also want to encourage the growth of self-sustaining food for canning, and even hope to offer seminars on the subject in the future.
“The world around us is increasingly becoming more volatile by the day, and having a pantry of delicious fruits and veggies is something we would like to encourage,” Derry said.
The stand is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through October at 38846 River Drive, Lebanon.
For more information, call (541) 915-7648, email [email protected], visit BreedenFamilyFarms.com or find them on Facebook at https://bit.ly/3M3iyuu.