Ben French

Starting Position: Propagation Intern
Current Position: VP of Propagation and Product Development

Ben got his B.S. in Forestry from Stevens Point, with a minor in Biology, and learned he loved growing baby trees more than sawing them down. After a recommendation from his supervisor in Green Bay Forestry, he sought out Johnson’s Nursery.

Ben started working at Johnson’s Nursery as an intern in 2010. That summer he weeded, watered, potted plants, and did propagation work. He was soaking in all the great knowledge that surrounded him and observed all he could.

Now, Ben is part of the senior leadership team managing up to 15 folks in spring. Most of the summer Ben is working on potting plants or some kind of propagation work. Johnson’s Nursery is fairly unique in having a large propagation portion to both its container and field growing activities. Ben cites the great crew he works with and the skilled long-term employees he’s lucky enough to work with. He also does recruitment and presentations for Johnson’s Nursery, specializing in demos and talks dealing with;

  • Propagation – including cuttings, grafting, and seedling production
  • Insects and diseases relating to landscapes
  • Wisconsin native plants
  • Nursery production

Usually for schools and plant enthusiast groups and nature centers.

What do you like most about working at Johnson’s Nursery?
“I love the plants I get to work with. Every acorn we plant or every cutting we take, I imagine growing beautifully and adding ecological and visual value to the world. That’s a great way to make a living. Focusing on locally produced materials makes me proud to grow our line of plants. Getting to work with other departments as well, like making little trees for our field production or showing off a nice crop of something for sales makes my day.”

Why would you recommend someone to work here?
“Few nurseries have a chain of production like Johnson’s Nursery. Most other nurseries focus on an aspect or two of nursery production and that works fine for them. Our nursery has a niche with natives and plant selection, so we have plants that we start from a seed or a cutting or a graft that gets moved up the production chain. This vertical integration allows anyone working here to see any stage of production from start to finish. Not to mention the wonderful sales and landscape departments who deal with the plants in their final locations. That sends a big message that I am personally proud of, that we are looking at qualities many nurseries aren’t.”

Personal Brief
When not working, Ben spends time hiking around natural areas, gardening, and identifying plants and animals wherever he goes. He is likely collecting some seeds or scions where appropriate – so actually, he’s still working… kind of… when you love it that much, is it still considered work?

Ben got his B.S. in Forestry from Stevens Point, with a minor in Biology, and learned he loved growing baby trees more than sawing them down. After a …