The importance of community relationships Jake Scott Innovative Ideas

February 2024
The importance of community relationships By Jake Scott

Community partnerships build trust, establish a positive reputation and increase brand awareness.

Recently, I received an email from a teacher at one of our area high schools asking if I would be interested in having a student “intern” this coming spring season. I was surprised to hear from this teacher, as I have never received any interest from students at this particular high school. This school is in the middle of town, while most of our high school employees attend the rural schools in our area.

Last spring, our business donated pollinator plants, fertilizer and soil to this high school to help with the final touches of its Adapted Curriculum Garden. Here at Piedmont Feed and Garden Center, we strive to enrich the lives of those we serve by connecting them with nature through knowledge, products and services. We love the opportunity to donate to local school gardens and educational groups.

As I read further into the email, I discovered that our contributions to this school garden had sparked an interest in horticulture with a student on the Occupational Course of Study track — a traditional diploma track with a work-readiness focus, where students complete unpaid work hours in the community. The student’s teacher praised her passionate interest in plants and emphasized that she was already investigating college programs within the industry, writing, “She excels wherever she goes, but a garden center is her ‘perfect’ placement. She spends as much time as she can in the school’s Adapted Curriculum Garden.”

This is what we strive for and why we place so much focus on building relationships within our community. Knowing that our partnership with this school is impacting at least one student and sparking an interest in the industry where we live and breathe is one of the many reasons we do what we do. Whether it’s donating to school gardens, sponsoring a local sports team, or hosting local nonprofits for adoption events and fundraisers on a Saturday, we must be involved within our community.

In a time of financial uncertainty, our small business relies on a strong connection with our community. We hear contradicting opinions and forecasts on what 2024 will look like for independent garden centers, but by engaging with our community above and beyond just selling them goods, we can build lasting relationships that we hope will carry us through seasons of uncertainty.

As a locally owned small business, community partnerships are crucial as they help to build trust, establish a positive reputation and increase our brand awareness. When we partner with local organizations, schools or other community groups, we are showing our customers that we care about the people and needs of our community. Our work within the community has helped us create a loyal customer base and even attract new customers who are passionate about supporting small businesses that are actively involved in the community.

Overall, community partnerships are a win-win for both our small business and the community we serve. The next time a group or individual approaches you asking your business for a donation or sponsorship, give it true consideration. At Piedmont Feed and Garden Center, we measure our success by the relationships we build. We endeavor to support our community with purpose. Are you striving to do the same?

For an enhanced reading experience, view this article in our digital edition.

Jake Scott

Jake Scott is general manager at Piedmont Feed and Garden Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a 2023 recipient of the Lawn & Garden Retailer Innovator Award. Learn more at