The Garden Tradition
Our story is deeply rooted in dedication to service that is required in the produce industry.
In the late 1950’s, after a run of bad luck in the cabbage business, Leonard Severt began to haul tomatoes from south Florida to Jacksonville to sell at his newly opened Farmer’s Exchange. Leonard operated as Severt and Sons Produce while collecting rent from other vendors at the Farmer’s Exchange.
In 1976, Dianne Severt Wasson, the eldest of Leonard’s nine children, began calling on restaurants in the St. Augustine, Forida area for their produce needs. Soon there was enough business to open a facility in St. Augustine. This newly created business became known as The Garden Wholesale, Inc. or simply, The Garden.
It is here that Dianne’s sons, Matt and Jon, began their produce careers working from the ground up in all aspects of the business.
After graduating from high school Matt went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida. Jon graduated from high school and went to work immediately for Severt and Sons Produce in Jacksonville, then owned and operated by Leonard’s sons, Mike and Danny Severt.
By 1995 Jon was managing Severt’s Jacksonville location.The Severt brothers, sold Jon the Jacksonville operation in 1996 and Jon changed the name to Jon’s Tomatoes. In 1999, Matt returned to The Garden as Operations Manager at the request of his mother, Dianne. After making many improvements and watching the business grow, Matt bought The Garden in 2001.
Both Matt and Jon have been blessed with success in their businesses. In August 2006, the Wasson brothers were approached by the Pitman family with an offer to purchase the Pitman Produce companies in Jacksonville. After much thought and research, Matt and Jon merged The Garden with Jon’s Tomatoes and, as The Garden Wholesale, Inc., bought the Pitman companies on September 19, 2006.
The Wasson brothers are extremely excited about the endless possibilities for the future. Hard work, quality product, excellent service, honesty and integrity, the Lord’s blessing of life, youth, determination and ability…these are what made The Garden what we are today and this is what will make us what we will be tomorrow.