Where Food Comes From
We as an industry are always looking to capture that elusive millennial demographic, and I get it. There’s a need for that next generation of plant lovers, or at least plant purchasers.
I see among my friends that it’s harder to convince a 20- or 30-something the value of gardening when they didn’t grow up with it. This education, however, is by no means impossible — I’ve definitely hopped on board.
One of my thoughts is that we should already be focusing on the generation after this generation, and the one after that.
For this reason, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont, on a recent trip with The Garden Center Group.
The Shelburne Farms mission is something I think everyone in the horticulture industry should be on board with: “to cultivate a conservation ethic for a sustainable future by educating young people to become ecologically literate and caring citizens who make choices that create a healthy and just world, and practicing the stewardship of natural, agricultural and cultural resources.”
William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb (yes, the same family as the Biltmore Estate) founded the farm in 1886. Their grandchildren and great grandchildren decided to create a non-profit in 1972 in hopes of revitalizing what had become a struggling farm.
Today, the 1,400 acres of working farmland include a dairy, market garden and woodlands.
School-age children get hands-on experience of how their cheese is made, where their food comes from and the important role nature plays in their lives. They can taste organic fruits and vegetables right from 7 acres dedicated to this growing and see purebred Brown Swiss cows roaming.
Teachers visit the farm for professional development courses and ideas to bring back to their classrooms. Now that’s not really something we were talking about when I was in elementary school!
Shelburne Farms has a number of resources for garden centers on their website (www.shelburnefarms.org). I highly recommend downloading their free “Cultivating Joy & Wonder” book, especially if you have any education workshops for children at your store.
If you ever get a chance to visit Shelburne Farms, you must check out the gardens. They’re connected to the inn, which is also on the property, and overlook the gorgeous Lake Champlain.
During our visit, we met with head gardener Birgit Deeds who is in her 80s and has been tending these gardens for more than 30 years. She even hires someone to do herown gardens at home, so she can focus on Shelburne Farms!
You can see photos from Vermont garden centers on page 36, and hopefully you’ll take a moment to read more about what Shelburne Farms is doing and how you can carry its mission into your garden center.
October was an exciting month for Lawn & Garden Retailer. Our March issue was awarded a 2017 Eddie Award for Best Single Issue by Folio:, the magazine for publishing professionals.
The Eddie Awards are the largest awards in the publishing industry, with more than 300 judges narrowing down thousands of entries and choosing winners in 33 different categories. We are honored to receive such an award!