A few days ago a new customer came in looking for pepper plants. When I told her that the plants wouldn’t be available for another 2-3 weeks, she replied “Everyone else is selling them now.” She left unhappy. My gut response was that I should have done something to appease her. Then it hit me. We are not Everyone Else!
Every year it seems that vegetable plants start arriving earlier at big box stores and farmers’ co-ops. And, sadly, people buy them, take them home and plant them into cold soil, then frantically try to save them from frost. A new shipment of plants arrive, people buy them again, plant them and watch them freeze again. Sometimes this happens 3 or more times!
We began having people come to us looking for tomato plants at the end of February. We explained that we don’t – and won’t – sell our plants until it’s time to plant them. Some people grumbled a little, but we took the time to explain that warm weather plants need warm soil to thrive and that killing frosts generally don’t end until mid-April. Old gardeners know that, but often can’t resist the temptation to be the first with a ripe tomato. New gardeners had no idea. They assumed that because the plants were available it must be time to plant.
It saddens me to think that the bottom line has become more important than honesty, ethics and customer service. Phil and I would rather lose money than take advantage of our customers. Most CEO’s would think we’re crazy. Maybe we are. All indications are that tough times are ahead. The price of food is increasing while the quality is decreasing. The safety nets for the poor are being cut so the wealthy can continue to prosper. If we can help people learn to grow their own food and take care of their families without picking their pockets in the process, we’ll do it. We aren’t Everyone else.