For Stassen brothers, gardening with their dad turns into something bigger

A couple weeks ago, the large flower pots in the concrete median on West Sixth Street that had been so popular with so many in recent years reappeared. But they didn’t immediately have flowers planted in them, so it led some to wonder if and when flowers would appear this summer.

    Well, late on recent Saturday night, City Administrator Shannon Stassen and his sons, Jaxon and Jakob, went out under the cover of darkness and planted flowers in the big pots. But it just wasn’t a couple of kids having to help their dad with a project; in fact, it was kind of the other way around. Growing and planting flowers is Jaxon and Jakob’s business, literally. They are the proprietors behind Leon & Levi’s Fresh and Local, which became an official limited liability corporation (LLC) in May, the elder Stassen says.

    “The boys and I really enjoy gardening together; our family has been adopting areas downtown and planting flowers for several years,” Stassen tells the Times. They have “adopted” the brick planters between city hall and the Grand Theatre, and have taken care of the pot in front of city hall and the planter attached to city hall. The trio also made the holiday pots located downtown last winter.

    Eventually, Jaxon and Jakob expressed an interest in kicking things up a notch by starting a business that would possibly involve selling vegetables at the Crookston Farmers’ Market. Flowers were eventually added to the business plan, Stassen said.

    So, in March, they planted more than 800 seeds including romaine lettuce, spinach, and a large variety of flowers. In April, they transplanted into pots and hanging baskets, and in May and June flowers were planted in the ground for cut flower arrangements. Once they became an LLC, the boys opened a business account at Bremer Bank. They made sales throughout June, and the cut flowers are almost ready for arranging, Stassen reports.

    Jakob is the “artist,” his dad says, and designed their website, https://www.leonandlevi.com/. They also have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Leon-Levis-Fresh-and-Local-157298548438820/. Jaxon is the “numbers guy,” his dad adds, and is tracking financials via a spreadsheet.

    “They are putting all the money into the business account; eventually, they will each have their own personal accounts and a portion will be put into each for college,” Stassen said. “The business account will keep enough for next year’s start-up cost and maybe another greenhouse.”

    It should be noted that the flowers the boys and their dad planted in the big pots on West Sixth Street were not planted, grown and sold to the City by the Stassen brothers. Flowers in the big pots and elsewhere around town have come from Walmart, D&D’s Thomforde Garden Center, and Crookston Hardware Hank.