PhD biochemist from Bulgaria taught himself how to grow figs in Missouri, sells at farmers market $1 per fig

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
Ivan Stoilov
8517 Catawissa Road
Dittmer, MO 63023
County: Jefferson
Business: 636-285-0420


Ivan Stoilov, PhD, is a biochemist from Bulgaria who taught himself how to grow figs in Missouri
Fig-get Me Not | Riverfront Times
Photo of Ivan: September 3, 2008 | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Biochemist Grows Figs in a Greenhouse Heated with Old Cooking Oil |
Figs Fresh and Fabulous

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