I hope I have no rude surprises today, but at this point in the season there are always many, both good and bad. Among the bad are the importation of insect pests from the purchase of other plants from other greenhouses. Surprise! the perennials from Michigan have aphids on them. Surprise! the fuschia cuttings from Indiana are covered with thrips. Surprise! Pooh left the key on in the skid steer loader so Mike could find the battery dead this morning. The list can go on. But so far things are going well for the early greenhouse season. The mild winter has allowed us to function at this end of the growing season without having to wade around in slush, mud and snow and the fuel bills are greatly reduced in comparison to the winter of 2010-2011. It is pushing the season a bit in the field, and this is always a dangerous path to be walking in early spring, but it is what it is, as they say, and we may as well try to take advantage of the open conditions to get things done out there in advance.
Recently a factoid caught my eye that I thought I would share with you. I have been down to the statehouse a couple of times, and testified before folks there regarding different agricultural issues. It never ceases to amaze me that how little the layperson/legislators understand about agriculture. Most view us as interesting, harmless bucolic sorts, who use open land for food production until a better use can be found. That being, perhaps, a family housing development, public education or recreation use or perhaps a manufacturing facility site. But they find it hard to grapple with the fact that there is an economic contribution that we make to the surrounding community, much harder still for them to visualize us as small businesses.
A farming buddy of mine in Randolph,Vermont, came up with an interesting fact. Sam Lincoln of Lincoln Farms is a pretty sharp fellow, and unlike many of us who deplore anything to do with economics, he enjoys looking at his books and figures. They speak to him directly and so he is able to couple good sound economic judgment with his passion for farming in making major decisions about his lifestyle and his farm. Recently he figured out that out of all the expenses he incurs at his farm, he pays back 88% of it to other vendors and folks within a 30 mile radius of his farm. Talk about keeping it local. I don’t know if my expenses would sugar off the same, but as I sit here and think about it, I’ll bet that we aren’t very far off. Most of my farm equipment comes from Townline Equipment, down at the end of River Road. The fuel suppliers are local (even if they make most of the stuff in the MidEast) and my auto mechanics live in town. Most of my filters, auto repair, and batteries come from an independent parts jobber in Claremont, insurance agent in Charlestown, fertilizer and supplies from Bradford, etc., etc. Except for Roy and Willy, all the other help are local folks. Plus, because of the tax structure in NH, we pay a princely sum of money to the Town of Plainfield for the luxury of doing business in what is admittedly one of the prettiest sections of the state. So yeah, we are keeping it pretty local too. Farms are pretty significant businesses in their communities, even if they can’t be found in a store front in a mall.
So this blog is not meant to flog you with some more incentive to “Buy Local”. Most likely if you are wading through this you probably support your local greenhouses and farm stands anyway, and thank you for that support. But it comes as some surprise to me (thanks to Brother Lincoln’s enterprising inclinations) that we farms indeed have a bigger impact socially and economically in our communities than I previously thought. So thanks for buying local. What is bought local, stays local.