CALEB LUKAS, 23, KNOWS ALL ABOUT ROOTS. HE KNOWS THE EXACT techniques to care for plants and help them survive the elements and grow strong. He knows the importance of family roots, too – honoring a rich history and perserving a legacy for generations to come.
When Caleb arrives to work each morning at Lukas Nursery & Garden Shop, Inc., his boots literally touch the same soil his great-grandfather, Paul Lukas, tilled each day a full century ago. A fourth-generation Lukas, Caleb says that walking in his great granddad’s footsteps along with family members Gertrude, Phil, Stanley II, and Cecelia is something special.
Commemorating 100 years in agriculture this year, the Lukas family is fresh off its Centennial Celebration Festival held late last month.
“We’ve always done a fall festival, but this year we made it bigger for the 100-year anniversary,” explains Caleb, who serves as treasurer and accounting and marketing communications manager for Lukas Nursery. “We would not be where we are today if it was not for our community.”
“This was a very special celebration for us,” Caleb says. “I have been working here since I could pull a weed and rake up leaves. I’d come to work on the weekends and after school. At that time, it wasn’t work. I just saw this as being home with the rest of my family.”
Caleb attributes the growth of the nursery to lots of hard work ad strength of mind, particularly from his grandmother Gertrude, uncles Paul and Phil, and his father Stanley. “My brother Stanley II, sis Cecelia, ans I have big shoes to fill as we continue our family’s legacy. We take on this challenge with a sense of pride and respect and look forward to the future,” Caleb says.
“My family, like many other families, hasn’t been immune to hardships,” Caleb continues. “We managed through the Great Depression, and most recently the Great Recession. We just keep at it to perserve what our forefathers built.”
In 1912 the Lukas family traveled to Florida and decided to settle in the rural and largely empty flatlands around Oviedo. Along with five other families, they names the area Slavia, which in the Slovak language mean, “glory.” The families then worked together to build St. Luke’s Lutheran Church.
“When my family arrived, they had to clear the land of all the different trees and palmettos in order to plant rows of crops,” Caleb describes. “The land was wild, full of alligators and other animals. There were even encounters with Seminole Indians.”
Lukas Nursery & Garden Shop officially opened its retail operation in February 1973 (with 50 one-gallon cans of woody ornamental plants and a sales area under an old chicken house. Within three years, the nursery grew form two-and-a-half acres to 24. Today, the nursery offers hundreds of plants, sod and lawn care items, gardening tools, landscape supplies, and pottery, plus the Lukas Sod Delivery Service.
An active member of the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association, Lukas Nursery has one of the biggest selections of pottery and outdoor garden art in the area. Customers can choose from glossy and colored pottery, decorative pots and baskets, concrete fountains, birdbaths, and garden statues to make their garden and terraces look more distinctive and remarkable.
The nursery is also home to one of the biggest native butterfly conservatories in the entire state of Florida. The Butterfly Encounter is presently ranked as one of the 25 biggest tourist destinations in Central Florida. The conservatory has expanded to 4,000 square feet where visitors can see 300 to 500 butterflies on a given day.
Nothing makes the Lukas family happier than sharing their love of nature and agriculture with others. Giving back to the community is also a tremendous priority for the Lukases. Throughout the years, they have donated proceeds from their annual Christmas tree and poinsettia sale to local charities. This year’s proceeds will benefit Hope Helps, Inc., Boys Town Central Florida, St. Luke’s Lutheran School, Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge, and Hospice of the Comforter.
“A lot of things have changed since my great-grandfather cleared this land,” Caleb says. “But the work is still very physical; you still have to get your hands dirty. It’s nice to be one with the Earth. We work with the soil, and the soil gives back to us. We’re happy to share this gift with others.”
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.