Ivan Stoilov started growing figs when his wife gave him a potted fig as a reminiscence of their homeland. He now has more than 500 "trees" (more like bushes) growing in the greenhouses. More fig trees are outside.
He ended up in St. Louis as a researcher for Sigma Chemical and bought a house near Creve Coeur Park. "But my wife was looking for a nicer house, I was looking for a bigger property," Stoilov says. The couple found their perfect spot in Dittmer, off Highway 30 in Jefferson County.
The Dittmer, Missouri, farmer wanted to grow the fruits and vegetables his Bulgarian family missed, without having to move back to Bulgaria.
Stoilov's grandparents had been farmers in Bulgaria, and he immediately planted Bulgarian peppers and other vegetables. When his wife gave him the first fig, he planted it outdoors and began experimenting with ways to help it survive the winters.
At 75 cents for smaller figs and $1.50 for large ones, the figs are his most profitable crop.
"He's definitely opened up his own market opportunity," says Marilyn Odneal, a horticulture outreach adviser at Missouri State University. "He's taking advantage of all the new interest in producing food locally."
Ivans Fig Farm
8517 Catawissa Road
Dittmer, MO 63023
Ivan Stoilov, PhD, is a biochemist from Bulgaria who taught himself how to grow figs in Missouri http://bit.ly/1xWjbJF
Fig-get Me Not | Riverfront Times http://bit.ly/1xWkxUL
Photo of Ivan: September 3, 2008 | St. Louis Post-Dispatch http://bit.ly/1xWkF6w
Biochemist Grows Figs in a Greenhouse Heated with Old Cooking Oil | TheLedger.com http://bit.ly/1xWkOXx
Figs Fresh and Fabulous http://bit.ly/1xWkW9J