Just Fruits had humble beginnings as a small retail nursery in 1978, founded by Brandy Cowley-Gilbert and her father, affectionately known as “The Old Hippie.” Originally named “Just Fruits Nursery,” the establishment focused solely on edible plants, embracing the motto, “If you can’t eat it, we don’t need it!” Within the southeast region, Just Fruits quickly gained recognition for its wide variety of edible plants and the accompanying knowledge shared with customers.
In the late 1990s, the Just Fruits team made a significant decision to expand their offerings beyond edibles and incorporate a diverse selection of ornamental and landscaping plants. This expansion included unique and unconventional varieties, ultimately leading to the adoption of a new name in 2007: “Just Fruits and Exotics.” The nursery encouraged customers not only to landscape their yards with ornamentals but also to “Fruitscape” by blending edibles and ornamentals to create their own edible gardens.
As Just Fruits continued to grow, it extended its reach beyond the southeast, becoming a prominent nursery serving customers throughout the United States. In 1999, the nursery launched its first website for mail-order sales, ensuring that plants packaged and shipped to customers maintained the same quality as those seen in Crawfordville, FL. The online store not only facilitated plant shipments but also provided valuable educational information to customers.
By 2015, Brandy Cowley-Gilbert and her husband Ted had successfully built a family-owned and operated nursery that enabled customers to cultivate their dream gardens and orchards. Considering retirement, they sought to pass on the nursery to a like-minded family who would uphold its values and further its growth. However, finding a buyer who did not intend to develop the land or alter the business proved challenging.
After several years of searching, in 2017, they encountered two brothers-in-law, Michael and Jamake, during their visit to the plant nursery in search of Blueberry Bushes. Upon learning that the nursery was for sale, Michael and Jamake playfully fantasized about the day when Jamake could leave his job and they could own and manage the nursery together. Intrigued, they contacted a friend who happened to be the business broker involved in the sale. Before long, Jamake quit his job, Michael delved into the financial aspects, and the Davino/Robinson Family became the new owners of Just Fruits and Exotics. With Jamake Robinson overseeing the growing field and retail nursery, his wife Marlee managing customer relations, Michael Davino handling the business operations, and his wife Kyle managing the nursery’s social media accounts, the nursery truly became a family-run business. Even Jamake and Michael’s parents emerged from retirement to take on crucial roles within the nursery.
Ted and Brandy remain regular visitors and consultants at Just Fruits, contributing their expertise and guidance. Many of the original employees also stayed on board with the new ownership team, playing an essential role in ensuring a smooth transition.
Jamake Robinson, a native of Leon County, grew up with a deep passion for gardening and cultivating fruit trees. He now oversees the growing field and retail nursery, bringing his expertise and love for horticulture to the business.
Marlee Robinson, with a background in environmental planning, possesses a profound appreciation and curiosity for the natural world in all its aspects. Alongside her responsibilities in customer relations, she can often be found chasing after their two young sons, Bodhi and Breeze, amidst the fruit trees.
Michael Davino, in addition to managing the nursery, owns another business in the financial industry, skillfully handling the business side of Just Fruits.
Kyle Davino, a former elementary school teacher, actively supports the nursery’s marketing