Stella Otto: The Backyard Fruit Gardener

Today's Tip: Mow vegetation short around the base of fruit trees and bushes to reduce winter habitat for rodents.

Media Resources: About the Publisher

Otto­Graph­ics was founded dur­ing the fal­ter­ing econ­omy of the early 1990s. At that time, Stella Otto and her hus­band, Fran­cis, were the own­ers of a 120 acre diver­si­fied fruit farm and farm mar­ket in north­ern Michi­gan. Crop prices were stag­nant and input costs were ris­ing. At the same time, Otto wanted to have more time to spend with her young son. So, the Ottos took a pos­si­ble lemon and, as they say, “made lemonade.”

Otto took her tal­ent for sim­pli­fy­ing and explain­ing the com­pli­cated in a way a novice can under­stand and founded Otto­Graph­ics, an inde­pen­dent spe­cialty pub­lisher of food gar­den­ing books. Mean­while, her hus­band took a job as orchard pro­duc­tion spe­cial­ist for one of the country’s lead­ing tart cherry producers.

Otto­Graph­ics’ first pub­li­ca­tion, The Back­yard Orchardist: A com­plete guide to grow­ing fruit trees in the home gar­den, won a Publisher’s Mar­ket­ing Asso­ci­a­tion (now Inde­pen­dent Book Pub­lish­ers Asso­ci­a­tion) Ben­jamin Franklin gold award for Best First Book from a new pub­lisher. It was also one of three sil­ver medal­ists in the gar­den book category.

Two years later, due to pop­u­lar demand, The Back­yard Orchardist was fol­lowed by The Back­yard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to grow­ing berries, bram­bles, and vine fruit in the home gar­den. Both books have intro­duced thou­sands of home gar­den­ers to the plea­sure of fruit gardening.

Two years later, due to pop­u­lar demand, The Back­yard Orchardist was fol­lowed by The Back­yard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to grow­ing berries, bram­bles, and vine fruit in the home gar­den. Both books have intro­duced thou­sands of home gar­den­ers to the plea­sure of fruit gardening.

Otto­Graph­ics’ mis­sion is to empower indi­vid­u­als to take an active part in pro­duc­ing their own food. With under­stand­ing and knowl­edge comes the abil­ity to become more self-sufficient and con­scious of our impact on our neigh­bor­hood and our world. By encour­ag­ing peo­ple to grow the
most local fruit pos­si­ble, that which comes from the gardener’s own yard, Otto­Graph­ics strives to pre­serve a green world for gen­er­a­tions to come.