Additionally, the relationship Carloftis forged with Alltech during the WEG project turned out to be a lasting one –– this season, Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens and Alltech are launching a new line of all-natural plant food, which they have been working in tandem to develop for more than two years. The products are the result of a simple question Carloftis found himself asking Deirdre Lyons, the wife of Alltech CEO Pearse Lyons, during the World Equestrian Games project: “How can we feed our gardens organically and naturally?”
“It started a great conversation –– and eventually launched a mini business of ours with Alltech fueling it,” said Dale Fisher, Carloftis’ longtime partner who has been helping manage the growing business for a handful of years.
Carloftis has long touted the benefits of using natural, organic materials to fertilize plants, but most of the organic products he has encountered are manure-based, which not only carry a less-than-savory aroma, but also pose the risk of tainting the compost.
“My clients in New York on Park Avenue having a fancy party didn’t want to smell manure,” he said with a laugh. “It doesn’t mix with vodka tonics.”
Deirdre Lyons and Carloftis both agreed that they were dissatisfied with the readily available all-natural plant products –– so they decided to create their own. The first two products from the Jon Carloftis Fine Gardens line –– Soil & Root and Bloom & Fruit –– are now available in a number of local garden shops, including Pemberton’s Greenhouses, Landscaper’s Corner and Chevy Chase Hardware.
Soil & Root, applied to the soil while tilling or when planting seedlings, promotes beneficial bacteria, and Bloom & Fruit can be applied directly to the foliage of the plants after they are in the ground.
“It’s similar to Miracle-Gro in that it goes on the plant’s leaves, but it’s all natural, no chemicals,” Carloftis said, “and it’s Kentucky Proud.”
The products are unique in that they are based on bacterial fermentation, a process Alltech has been using on their plant nutrition products since 1993 –– interestingly, it’s also the process used in producing two of Alltech’s other products, bourbon and beer.
Having spent so much time in Kentucky over the past couple of years –– first with installing the WEG project, and then with developing the new product line –– has grounded Carloftis and Fisher in Lexington, Fisher said.
Now spending about half their time in Kentucky and the other half in New York, it seems as though the bluegrass state can be expecting to see even more of Carloftis in the near future.
“As much as I love being in New York –– and it’s exciting, I’ve been doing 23 years of it, and I still want to do it –– but I tell you what I like better. I like getting with my dogs and getting in the dirt. The soil is unbelievable here,” he said.
“Lexington is a fertile ground. There is so much beauty here,” he continued. “”But sometimes you have to go away to appreciate it.”