Since 1881

Since we are in our third century of business, we have developed a bit of history along the way. Our ancestors have quite a list of accomplishments and we’d like to share just a few of those in text and pictures. The text is below, the pictures are to the right. Mouse over them and click to take you to our timeline. It may be boring to you, but we’re pretty proud of where we have come from.

The first seeds of Scarff's Nursery were planted before the turn of the last century, and the business has endured in the family throughout the 1900's over five generations. In 1881, J.J. Scarff planted a quarter acre of blackberries and sold the fruit. His son, W.N., began to work his own corner of the fruit farm a few years later and sold the plants themselves, thus beginning the legacy of nurserymen in the Scarff family. W.N. built the business to a national reputation and passed it on to his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons. Today, in its 125th year, Scarff's still retains its national reputation and continues to thrive, ready for the next generation to take their hoes into the field and get started as their ancestors did.

W.N. flourished by providing his employees with a segment of the business to manage on their own-ordering supplies, hiring workers and producing-while W.N. concentrated on selling what they produced. Around the time of WWII, W.N.'s sons, Max and Howard, joined the business, then called W.N. Scarff & Sons, which grew to include livestock, an orchard, and a seed farm, along with the fruit farm and nursery. After W.N.'s death in 1928, the business continued to expand to its prime of 2000 acres after WWII.

Many of the buildings and landmarks of those years remain. The seed company operated out of what was the Tecumseh YMCA. Fruit was sold from the building that still stands on the southeast corner of the intersection of U.S. 40 and S.R. 235. The orchard grew on the original Scarff homestead that was settled by J.J.'s father, south of U.S. 40 on the west side of S.R. 235. The nursery operation continues in its original location, and still includes that first quarter acre that was planted in blackberries.

The nursery business emerged from other interests when Max and Howard made the decision to specialize in the 1950's. They sold the orchard and divided the remainder of the operation: Max presided over the seed operation while Howard continued with the nursery. Max and later his son-in-law, Charles Martin, continued the Scarff Seed Company with innovation and recognition on a national level until it closed its doors in the early 70's.

Scarff's Nursery, under the direction of Howard and his sons, Jim and Bill, who had each joined the business after terms in the U.S. military, benefited from their undivided attention.

Responding to community demand, Howard opened a garden center in 1955 to allow local gardeners and homeowners to take advantage of the trees, shrubs and landscape products that had previously only been available to wholesale customers. Jim directed the retail operation while Bill concentrated on the wholesale business. Both segments of the business grew in acreage and customers for two decades.