2022 is already looking a bit dubious. Inflation, Political trouble, War in Ukraine, fertilizer and fuel prices...it is hard to find a comforting story in the news these days. Frankly, I'm tired of it.
So, I will be making some positive changes around here and confidently moving ahead with some of the plans I have been formulating for the Club over the last year. Spring 2022 is just around the corner (officially March 20th) and this is the perfect time to announce my new motto for this season.
We launched Grumpy's Garden Club in Spring 2020 as a way to connect with real people and grow a network of local folks that enjoy making the world a more beautiful place. I seemed to spend a lot of time explaining to folks why I chose the name "Grumpy's" for the nursery. The short answer is that the name developed organically and it just grew on us. ;)
The 2021 season was an experiment in marketing. I was looking for answers to the questions of: What do people want most?, How can I de-emphasize profits and emphasize community development?, & then Where might we grow from here?
I was forced to buy many of my plants wholesale in the Spring due to Snowmaggedon and the collapse of my temporary plant protection, but significant improvements were made to the infrastructure of the entire operation. We added electricity and water in the vineyard for lights, music, and food trucks (or an RV). We bought bistro lights and outdoor sound equipment for creating "atmosphere". We set up a couple of picnic tables for folks to sit and talk. We built 18 tables for staging plants, we purchased new signage to help get better attention on Hwy 271. We started an (overly) ambitious automated greenhouse project (still ongoing) that is a HUGE improvement to our production capability. We got to host a couple of great musicians at our events in May and September, we learned a ton about new varieties of desirable plants - but MOST OF ALL we met hundreds of great people that were curious about what was going on in the muscadine vineyard just north of Union Grove, TX.
It was my desire to include & involve anyone & everyone that wanted to be a part of what we were doing and so the motto for 2021 became: "Where Outsiders Belong". I still like that very much.
Now, with the fear of Covid-19 in our rear-view mirror, and different kinds of uncertainties popping up everywhere else, I am intentionally turning a corner in 2022. My emphasis this season will be "Growing Gardeners", encouraging others to branch out, plant something beneficial, nurture friendships and cultivate their own productivity. With some help we can each discover a way to cultivate the beauty in our own neighborhoods. I like the sound of that too.
The "pre-season" Seed Swap we held on February 26th was not attended by a huge crowd of folks. The weather was nasty that morning and most folks probably stayed in their pajamas until lunch. The families that chose to attend were a lively group with some truly neat things to offer. We had ornamentals, lots of veggie seeds, gourds & loofa seeds, onion sets, & even Oyster Mushroom spore! It was a great time for fellowship, swapping stories, getting to know neighbors, welcoming new friends from out of state, eating donuts, and collecting a bunch of new seeds I didn't even know I wanted. My youngest son gathered his own little stash and is planning to plant a garden of his own. We will be making Seed Swaps a regular part of our club, for sure!
However, my chief focus this year is looking for the gardener in each person I meet. I would love to enlighten, encourage, and empower folks to improve their gardening acumen, gain new skills, or just put down roots with us in East Texas.
I may not have as many vendors at my events this year, I may not host as many concerts or food trucks as we did in 2021 - because my attention is on finding my people and cultivating a cohesive and like-minded group that share a passion for Life.
I hope to see you all in the Vineyard on March 19th.