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1940-Joe's first Model T loaded with crates
of vegetables; he could barely see to drive.

1940-Joe's first Model T loaded with crates of vegetables; he could barely see to drive.

How Mortellaro's began

Fifty-one years ago Joe and Lucille could scarcely have imagined what the future held for their fledgling backyard nursery on the south side of San Antonio. In 1956, as Joe recognized changing times would close the door on many home delivery services, he shifted gears and Joe's Fruits and Vegetables, the produce business he had begun as a young man, became Joe Mortellaro's Nursery. A year later the nursery moved to a rural Loop 410 on the north side of San Antonio, where the burgeoning business grew and changed.

In 1963, James Harden joined the company and the family in 1964 when he and Joanne Mortellaro became husband and wife. In 1967 Joanne assumed the majority of the bookkeeping responsibilities previously handled by Lucille. The business and the family continued to grow under the watchful eye of Joe, Lucille, James, and Joanne.

In 1972, Joe and Lucille purchased property just outside Poteet and began a field-grown operation. Returning to grow in the field was a dream come true for Joe Mortellaro. He passed away the following year, but his legacy remains in the 205 acres of rich, fertile land in Atascosa County.

On the grow again, James and Joanne began purchasing land on I-35, northeast of San Antonio in Schertz, Guadalupe Country in 1975. It was bought one tract at a time totaling 70 acres, including the home site. James designed and engineered the land to capture the run-off water; it was blended with purchased reuse water and Edwards Aquifer water making Mortellaro's Nursery a leader in water conservation.

The vision to consolidate growing, shipping, sales, and a corporate office under one efficient roof with room to grow was realized in 2001, when Mortellaro's Nursery moved to its newly-constructed sales office in Schertz.

In 2004, the last greenhouse was moved from the Loop 410 site. The sales and accounting buildings were moved to Poteet, where production was increased to compensate for the area lost in San Antonio. The Mortellaro family home, which served as the original office, has also been moved to Poteet. Even the old cypress water tank is nestled in a field of plants near the entrance in Schertz.

James Harden now serves as CEO/President, with Joanne as CFO. James Jr. and Joe joined the company aft er graduation from Texas A&M and Texas Tech, respectively. James Jr. is Vice-President of Sales and Production; Joe is Comptroller and webmaster. Lucille is still active in the accounting operation. Children and family dogs still run around the nursery and take tractor rides with Grandpa. Thanks to its loyal customers and employees, Mortellaro's is here today and tomorrow to exceed the needs of their clients and the ever-changing horticulture industry.

Joe Mortellaro would be proud. The business he and Lucille
nurtured in their small backyard,through teamwork and determination
still prospers a half-century later in the capable hands of those he loved most.