It is soapbox time at the Fairegarden. Sometimes a thought gets pushed to the forefront of the cerebral cortex and jumps up and down until it, the thought, gets to have its say. Often this jumping happens at the beginning of a new year when there is little actual gardening going on outside to distract us. (The above shot is meant to suggest a box, perhaps that once held soap. Work with me here.)
This thought began when we were visiting offspring Brokenbeat and his lovely wife in Asheville. We are co-owners with them of an ice cream shop there, two locations now, The Hop and The Hop West, click on their logo on the sidebar to find out more if you wish. Brokenbeat was getting ready to go to work, opening the Hop West location which is very close to their home in West Asheville. How convenient it is to be but a few blocks away, talk about a short commute time. He can bicycle there.
Showered, he grabbed a t-shirt from the laundry and pulled it over his head. It was black in color and on the back it reads “Local is the new black”. As a local businessman, it makes perfect sense to advertise how important the small locally owned shops are to the economy. In these times of huge conglomerate big box stores with multi-billion dollar advertising campaigns, chains of restaurants and yes, even chain ice cream shops, keeping the dollars in the area is a worthwhile goal. The little guys need our help.
Next time you are shopping in one of the large stores, check the labels for the location of manufacturing. You will most likely see the words “Made in China” on nearly every single item. It is my goal to be more aware of where stuff is produced, including our food and produce.
If you can’t grow it in your own backyard, the most local of all, there are local farmer’s markets with plenty of good stuff available. As gardening consumers, we are lucky that most of the plant material for sale is grown in our region. Sometimes the greenhouses where propagation and germination occur are right on the premises of the nursery, like at our beloved Mouse Creek Nursery, to read more about it, click here-OOTS-Mouse Creek Nursery. This is where my plant budget dollars will be spent. Last year a conscious effort was made to drive on by the big box store, even though it is quite close to my house, when on the mission of fulfilling the plant buying addiction. Mouse Creek is a treasure and the owner Ruth is a friend. I want them to stay afloat in a tough economy and will help them when at all possible.
One day late last fall I needed a few more violas and some more swiss chard for the container plantings. Ruth was away and her husband was at the helm. I had never really had any contact with him other than seeing him working behind the scenes, repairing one of the greenhouses or cutting the field behind on his tractor. The selections were made and I was ready to pay for the purchases. I wrote out a paper check, one of the only checks written anymore to pay bills since most things are done online now. When he saw my name in the upper left corner, he shouted aloud, “So you are Frances!” Since he handles the bank account, making the deposits of checks collected each week, he knew my checks well. In fact, one of my checks was left in a pocket and washed in their washing machine last summer. Ruth called me with this bad news and I dashed out there to write another to replace the shredded paper. His gratitude was heart warming and it helped me realize how important it is to be a regular customer at a locally owned business, whether it sells plants or ice cream.
And so, dear and gentle readers, may I encourage you to patronize your locally owned businesses whenever possible? Help keep them in the black ink with your hard earned dollars. And if you are so inclined, think of it as being part of the latest fashion trend, cutting edge überchic, for buying local truly is the new black.