MONROE, CT — Families scrambling to find flowers before visiting their mother this Mother’s Day will have Courville Nurseries, 163 Barn Hill Road, as one of their last minute options. The business will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Though the nursery opened five years ago, it just celebrated its official grand opening Friday afternoon, because the COVID-19 pandemic had put off a formal welcome from town officials and years passed before it was rescheduled.
Richard Courville, a former commercial fisherman, started Courville Nurseries at 1 Meadow St. Extension in Norwalk in 2001 with retail and wholesale. He has another location on Jacks Hill Road in Oxford strictly for growing.
When the former Twombly Nursery property on Barn Hill Road in Monroe became available, Courville was interested.
“I still don’t own the property in Norwalk, so when this was for sale it was the perfect situation,” he recalled.
Courville owns six acres and leases another 10 acres for his business on the Monroe property.
“We supply, design and install,” he said. “We have shade and ornamental trees, deciduous and evergreens. We have a wide selection of shrubs and perennials.”
Courville Nurseries is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Byron Lemus is manager of the Monroe nursery and Keith Brousseau is the general manager. The business has 30 employees.
First Selectman Ken Kellogg, State Rep. Tony Scott, R-112th, Community and Economic Development Dir. William Holsworth and several members of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and the Monroe Economic Development Commission attended Friday’s ribbon cutting ceremony.
Courville’s wife, Sarah, also attended the event.
“On behalf of the town of Monroe, welcome,” Kellogg said after the ribbon was cut. “We’re glad to have you here. Thank you for keeping alive a tradition that Mr. Twombly started here on this beautiful land. You’ve done a remarkable job. It’s beautiful. It’s wonderful and we wish you many, many decades of success.”
From lobsters to landscaping
George Burgess, Courville’s late grandfather, was a fisherman in New Finland, Canada. He moved several times, before settling down in Norwalk where he lived to the ripe old age of 98.
Courville grew up in Norwalk and become a fisherman himself, running his own business, fishing on Long Island Sound in his boat, The Rita Grace, for 15 years.
“They called me the Bait Monster, because I used to service all the lobster boats in the area with bait,” Courville said with a chuckle. “I used bunker. I just had a love for fishing and the outdoors.”
The lobster business was seasonal, so Courville did planting, masonry and landscaping to make money in the offseason.
“When the lobsters started dying, we were basically pushed out of the commercial fishery,” he said, “so we naturally moved to the landscaping and nursery business. It seemed like the right thing to do.”
Malathion, a man-made insecticide, got into storm drains killing lobsters, as well as sewage treatment, according to Courville.
“They called me the Bait Monster, because I used to service all the lobster boats in the area with bait.” — Richard Courville
On Friday, the small crowd attending the grand opening of Courville’s Monroe nursery enjoyed mingling and eating pizza pies delivered from Vazzy’s Osteria in Monroe.
Among the guests was Edward Grant, chief operations manager for K&J Tree Service. He said, “it’s nice that Rich kept it alive, because there are not many full service nurseries like this around.”