Growing with Luke

Bell City Boy works to build back business after disaster strikes
Bell City boy works to build back business after disaster strikes.
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 9:50 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2023 at 10:38 PM CST
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BELL CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - A southeast Missouri boy built a business from the ground up only to have Mother Nature take it down. Now, his community and customers are helping him rebuild.

Luke Douglas is a typical kid in one sense. He definitely doesn’t mind getting dirty. In most other ways, he’s a bit of an old-fashioned renaissance man, or rather boy.

He’s learning to play banjo, and loves to square dance with his group The Little Squares out of Advance, Missouri.

“We’ve always said Luke is an old soul,” said Luke’s mom Samantha Dover. “We get in the car and he’ll turn on the radio to the ‘50s and ‘60s station and he loves it.”

At just 10 years old, he knows exactly what he wants to do when he grows up.

“I’ve always loved farming,” said Luke. “My papa has done it, my great grandpa has done it, my great-great grandpa. It’s just been in my family for generations, and I want to carry it on.”

“He’s always had farming in his blood,” said Dover. “Whenever he’s not farming in the wintertime he has a game he plays - a farming simulator. It just got him more and more excited. He’s like ‘I don’t want to wait until I’m older or graduate to have a farm. I want to start doing something now.’”

“I thought if I can’t farm out in a field, a greenhouse sounds like a good idea,” said Luke.

So, for his 10th birthday Luke asked for a gift to grow his future.

“I was opening my gifts and I got my greenhouse,” said Luke. “I was excited because I was on my journey to starting my business.”

Luke did not waste any time. He got down to planting, and started his business which he called Growing with Luke.

“I figured out that I can make a business to sell plants to people. Just like a farmer would, except it’s plants and not grain,” said Luke.

The plants, Luke hoped, would help folks in his community who may struggle to afford fresh produce from the grocery store.

“Prices are going up and stuff,” said Luke. “We sell plants pretty cheap... You could buy plants and they would produce a lot, but you don’t have to spend as much money.”

Luke held five plant sales last year marketing his wares on his own YouTube channel. With a new “Growing with Luke” Facebook page, he had even bigger plans for spring.

“We had made a couple of posts on there about what we’re going to have this year - and then this happened,” said Dover.

Before Luke could even plant for the season, Mother Nature shut him down.

“Farmers don’t have greenhouses, but I know how it feels to have your crops ruined and stuff,” said Luke. “It’s been hard.”

Strong winds gusting as high as 60 miles per hour blew through Bell City in early February battering Luke’s little nursery.

When Luke got off the bus after school, piece by piece, he gathered that his business was in ruins.

“I remember walking up the hill and I find two panels on the side of the hill,” said Luke. “I remember coming up and I see another panel. I picked it up and then I looked at my greenhouse and it was totally destroyed... The metal is bent, the screws have come out. I was a little sad, a little mad, a little frustrated because it was my little ‘me time’ thing.”

“It was kind of a setback,” said Dover. “We were immediately thinking okay, how are we going to get this up and doing when we have two working parents who are already doing everything we can to make our boy’s dream come true.”

The answer came from the community Luke’s produce aims to help. His mom set up a GoFundMe page to rebuild Luke’s greenhouse.

“The first night we had it we had already raised over $1,000 which was about the cost of his original greenhouse,” said Dover. “So it kind of gave us hope that we could get this going this year and get it up off the ground.”

That seed of hope has planted even bigger dreams in Luke

“It’s making me real happy that people want to help us fix the greenhouse,” said Luke. “It’s just made me happy the last couple of days.”

Dover said they plan to build a sturdier greenhouse that wind can’t destroy as easily. Luke said he can’t wait to dig in, and get back to doing what he loves best.

“I know this year I’m going to plant some sunflowers,” said Luke. “I hope they’re successful.”

Dover said anything the GoFundMe page raises over their goal of $3,500 will be put back into buying seeds and materials to donate plants to help create gardens for people who can’t easily afford fresh produce.

If you’d like to donate the Help Support Rebuilding Luke’s Greenhouse GoFundMe, click here.