Where it All Began
David and Vicki Ritter started a small truck farm in Clark, Missouri, at the corner of Route P and Highway 63, growing vegetables for the surrounding community. The need for seed and vegetable starts proved to be in demand and in 1973 Ritters Fruits and Vegetables was formed and they never looked back!
The Ritters continued to grow their business and the retail store in Moberly was opened in 1979. With this expansion, came more greenhouses, and along came flowers. By 1984 the retail store moved to its current location at the corner of Morley and Highway 24. After many hot summers and cold winters the nursey location in Clark was forced to move due to the Highway 63 expansion. In 1997, David and Vicki moved their 8 greenhouses to their current location off of Highway M. Vicki states, “We never missed a season. David had some help getting all the greenhouses taken down and rebuilt that fall and winter of ‘97. Plants were in the greenhouses the beginning of 1998 for that coming season.” There they settled in and continued to grow vegetable plants, flowers and hanging baskets for the surrounding areas of north-central Missouri.
THINGS START TO GROW
After moving to Moberly in 1997, both retail and wholesale increased and more greenhouses were needed. In 1999 an additional 2 houses where built and finally in 2012, house #10 was erected. We call this the “power house” as it can hang over 1600 hanging baskets, with that many more on the floor. The summers between 2012 and 2016 were full of updating and remodeling current houses to accommodate our expanded product lines.
Change in Ownership
The founders, David and Vicki Ritter, decided to retire in the fall of 2014. After 41 years, it was time to hang up the towel, to relax and enjoy the rest of their life. Their oldest son and his wife, Mark and Rachael Ritter, took ownership with Mark taking on the owner and grower role. Initially, the transition was going to be a slow one, with the help and guidance of David and Vicki for the first few years as Mark and Rachael began their journey of owning a business. However, in January of 2015, David was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed only weeks later, in March. That year proved to be a year which tested everyone, not only those in the business but the entire family. David and Vicki were the rock and foundation of the family and business. They left everyone a map of how to be strong and pull through whatever comes their way. Continuing David and Vicki’s legacy and values is important to the family. We are thankful and blessed to continue having Vicki working alongside us getting her fingers dirty and offering assistance when needed.
“This business started out as Ritters Fruits and Vegetables down in Clark, and some people may know and call us Ritters Garden Center now, but ultimately its all the same. Just call us Ritters and we will be here to bring you the best looking flowers and plants along with the freshest produce in Mid-Missouri. My father and mother started this business over 40 years ago and my goal is to continue to run a family oriented business much like they did and to continue the legacy that they started.” - Mark Ritter (Owner/Grower)
Where Are We Today?
In 2017, we added two more greenhouses on the northern end of the property. Initially those houses were erected as we were running out of space and we needed to spread things out to preserve plant quality. However, in 2018 and looking forward to 2019, we continue to grow in both our retail and wholesale outlets pushing us back to being near 100% capacity and again looking to expand!
As you can see in the aerial picture of our nursery location, you can see the additional houses that were built in 2017 on the far right. When we did that expansion, we went ahead and cleared land and ran utilities to allow for an additional three houses to be built. While it might be a few years until we see those expansions happen, we are excited to see the possibilities available to us as we continue to find ways to grow. Our ultimately goal at Ritters is to be able to provide high quality flowers and plants to as many people possible in our region and we feel like we've got a great foundation in place to make that happen.