Currently closed. We'll be open tomorrow from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM
2600 N CASALOMA DR, APPLETON, WI
Currently closed. We'll be open tomorrow from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Our History

Making Yards Beautiful Since 1932

Geraldine Van Zeeland and her daughter
Geraldine Van Zeeland and her daughter

Van Zeeland Nursery & Landscape began in 1932 as a ten-acre berry farm (raspberries and strawberries) on the east side of Little Chute. At this time, the country was in the throes of the Great Depression and a supply of food was more important than beautifully landscaped yards.

Alois Van Zeeland cultivated the land with the help of his horse, Tom, and many local part-time teenage boys who spaded the land by hand. Harvest was done by Alois and his crew, but a lot of the berries were sold to customers who got a lower price by picking their own.

Gradually Alois started to grow a supply of trees, shrubs and evergreens on an adjoining 30-acres of land that was not used for berries. In 1942, Alois married his wife Geraldine (Gloudemans), who helped with the business in these early years.

Eventually, around 1946 or 1947, Alois constructed a wooden frame, covered it with plastic, and started potting plants – he had fashioned himself a greenhouse. He was now truly in the nursery business, and he made the decision to switch gears from being a berry farmer to retail sales and landscape contracting. After taking winter courses in horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alois began offering landscape design services to his customers.

Alois Van Zeeland and his gladiolas
Alois Van Zeeland and his gladiolas

In 1968, 35 years after Alois Van Zeeland started Van Zeeland Nursery & Landscape, local high school student Jeff Hermsen began working summers at the Nursery. After high school, Jeff continued to work summers at the nursery while attending college. After two years at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, the Little Chute native still didn’t know what course of study to pursue.

Seeing Jeff’s love of the outdoors and plants, Alois Van Zeeland suggested to Jeff that he try horticulture. Jeff pursued, and in 1974 received his Associate Degree in horticulture from Gateway Technical College in Kenosha. He then returned to the nursery full time.

In 1975, Jeff married Debbie (Chiappetta). In 1976, they moved into the second floor of Van Zeeland’s farmstead, residing above the Van Zeelands until building their home adjoining the current nursery property in 1990. Debbie was instrumental in the business, with a versatile role handling bookwork, reception, retail sales, and ordering perennials. 

In 1978, Jeff and Debbie purchased the Nursery and Landscaping business (inventory and equipment) from the Van Zeelands, and in 1981, they acquired the land, about five acres. As owners, they could focus on their passions – Landscape Design and Landscape Installation. This philosophy benefited both the Hermsen’s and their customers, as they could leverage their expertise. This allowed them to expand, adding two full-time Landscape Designers and seven full-time employees to cater to the growing demand.

Alois & Geraldine Van Zeeland (front) Debbie & Jeff Hermsen (back)
Rick & Sue Sanderfoot with children
Rick & Sue Sanderfoot with children

In February of 2003, after 35 years at the Nursery, Jeff and Deb Hermsen sold Van Zeeland Nursery & Landscape to Rick and Sue Sanderfoot. During the selling process, the Hermsens made it known that they preferred to stay in the business and hoped that they could assist at the Nursery for years to come.

One of the main reasons they wanted to sell the business was to feel the freedom to take a little more time off—vacation. Rick and Sue jumped at this opportunity to retain their knowledge and expertise, and the Hermsens stayed active in the business through 2011.

Rick worked in accounting, management, and leadership positions for 20 years before deciding to become an entrepreneur in the Nursery and Landscape business. He had lived in Fox Valley almost all his life and had shopped at Van Zeeland Nursery for 15 years. Rick knew Van Zeeland Nursery was the perfect place to find high-quality plants and exceptional service. He was thrilled to get the opportunity to work there.

After running Van Zeeland Nursery & Landscape for 13 years, the owners, the Sanderfoots, decided to sell the business in 2016. David and Rachel Lindenstruth purchased it.

Van Zeeland's Little Chute Nursery
Van Zeeland's Little Chute Nursery
David & Rachel Lindenstruth with children
David & Rachel Lindenstruth with children

David previously owned and operated an award-winning business that he grew to seven locations and over 400 employees.  After selling that business in 2012, David thought he was done with business ownership.  However, after a few years, he struggled to find his calling and began looking at various business opportunities, but none struck a chord.  About to give up, David prayed, and shortly after that, God granted him the opportunity to purchase Van Zeeland’s.  Immediately, David knew that this was the right fit.

While not the most knowledgeable about plants, David had loved growing them since he was a child.  When he was five, he wanted to be a farmer, like his Grandfather.  This was a clear sign.  Everything fell into place and the Lindenstruth’s became owners of Van Zeeland’s in 2016.  While David manages the day-to-day operations, you’ll see touches of Rachel’s creativity throughout the nursery.

Throughout the transition and beyond, Van Zeeland’s never lost a beat.  Rick Sanderfoot stayed on to assist with the changeover. Jeff Hermsen still helps out in the Nursery today doing retail sales and also uses his many years of expertise in performing plant diagnostics for clients.  The rest of the core team that Rick and Jeff assembled is still here – Joe, Steve, Robin, Jared, Jeff B., Andy, and Kevin.  Accompanied by a talented group of newer staff, they strive to beautify yards!

Blessed by this fantastic opportunity, the Lindenstruth’s promise to continue the traditions of excellent customer service, of carrying the best collection of nursery stock, and of being recognized as the premiere landscaper in northeast Wisconsin!

Van Zeeland Nursery & Landscape
Our new northwest Appleton location off of I-41