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Monday
Sep012014

Brothers raise money for college with mums business

Brothers Layne Alexander, left, and Landon Alexander, right, of Shepherd have raised and sold mum plants for the last three years to put away money for college. Photo by Holly MahaffeyBy Holly Mahaffey

SHEPHERD, Mich. - Money doesn’t grow on trees, but two brothers from Shepherd have figured out the next best thing. 

Landon Alexander, 13 and Layne Alexander, 11, have been growing and selling mums for 3 years now with some minor help from their father Pete Alexander. 

“We’ve had two successful years,” said Landon. 

Selling each plant for $3 each, all proceeds from the sales of the mums go into college funds for the boys.

This year the Alexanders said they planted about 1400 chrysanthemum plants in a field next to their home outside of Shepherd. 

The Alexanders said their father helps by digging holes during planting season, usually around Memorial weekend said Landon. Layne and Landon’s younger sister Lexi is three. “She tries to help,” said Layne. 

The boys sell their mums outside their home, either by digging the plants out and repotting them, or allowing customers to go into their field to dig their own preferred plants.

Photo by Holly Mahaffey

Pete Alexander said it’s typical for customer to stop by wanting one or two plants but then to end up leaving with a dozen different plants.

In addition to their roadside sales, the Alexanders sometimes set up a stand in Shepherd to sell their mums, and they also take orders. They said they also sell their plants to some local landscapers who use them in in fall plantings, and that the equestrian team at Shepherd High School sells plants purchased from the Alexanders for fundraisers.

Pete Alexander, who is also president of the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Committee, said he had been growing mums for 20 years on and off and thought it would be a good experience for his boys to put in the work and see their success pay off in a productive way.

Pete said all profits from the sales of the mums go in college fund accounts in Landon and Layne’s names, and that they were able to invest some money back into their business with the purchase of a used four-wheeler to help speed up the process of moving the plants for sale.

The Alexanders grow a wide variety of colors. “My favorites are purple, blue, CMU colors and pink,” said Layne. “I like the CMU colors the best. My 4th grade teacher went to CMU.”

Layne’s current choices of potential colleges in the include Central Michigan University or the University of Michigan, while Landon remains undecided on where he will attend college in the future.

As members of Shepherd football teams, the boys’ mother Lisa Alexander said Layne is known in Shepherd as “The Governor” because he is “large and in charge,” said Lisa. She said Landon is known at “Hollywood” because his initials are L.A. Lisa, who works at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, also collects orders from her coworkers for her sons.

Photo by Holly Mahaffey

As far as juggling their business with the school year starting and putting in time for football practice every day, the Alexanders said they are busy but manage.

“School comes first, then mums, then practice,” said Layne.

For Pete, the best part of the mum sales is seeing his sons put in hard work and reap the rewards. For Layne, his favorite part is “meeting a lot of people,” he said.

For Landon, he says it’s the money, and “people telling me I’m a good help. And knowing I can do things for myself.”

Originally published online and in print in the Morning Sun, a Mount Pleasant, Mich. daily newspaper.