Business Blooming For George County Nurseries

When Doug Byrd opened Coach's Cedar Creek Farm decades ago, the tools of his trade were simple.

"That was all water hose, big heaters, and one layer of plastic. Yes, that is a far way from 1978," Byrd said.

The conditions at local plant nurseries today are also a far cry from the days and weeks after Hurricane Katrina. But like the fertilizer that's helping these plants grow, Byrd says the storm ultimately gave nurseries throughout George County a major boost.

"Most of us, as we've rebuilt, have come back with much better houses, much better systems. There are things that we have now that we didn't have before Katrina," Byrd said.

High tech greenhouses protect plants from the cold, while automatic thermostats and time controlled sprinklers keep the bills from going through the roof.

"It used to be we would heat a whole house and have it half full. We heat exactly where the plants are and no more," Byrd said.

Some of Katrina's scars are still visible at Byrd's seven-acre nursery. What used to be a door, is now a plastic cover that keeps thousands of plants warm.

"As long as you provide that plant with what it's looking for, it doesn't know that the greenhouse is crooked or it doesn't have a door or there's plastic hanging up. As long as you can produce the plants in there, we're good to go," Byrd said.

And from the youngest green plants to those beginning to bud, Byrd believes recovery at this nursery will continue to bloom.

Byrd says that South Mississippians have helped his business the most. He has quadrupled pre-Katrina sales, and credits it to the rebuilding efforts and people's desire to buy locally.