Wednesday, January 03, 2007

We get calls

Tonight I participated in a phone survey for Urban Roots, a local gardening group that is trying to start a co-op nursery. I did it as a personal favor; I don't know how many other people they called, and I believe it was limited to known gardeners rather than randomly chosen Buffalonians.

They asked:
•How much money I spend on plants per year (I guessed at least $500, but it's probably more)
•Where I bought my plants (mail order and locally)
•Which local nurseries I patronized (all the arguably best ones as well as Home Depot)
•What was the main criterion upon which I based my opinion of a nursery (selection)
•Did location make a difference (never; I enjoy a nice drive)
•How I ranked these variables: location (4), selection (1), price (2), and knowledgeable staff (3)
•How would I define co-op (a cooperative, a group of people who together participated more or less equally in achieving a common goal, perhaps all paying memberships, donating time, etc.)
•What non-perishable items I would buy from such a co-op (pots, organic fertilizers, stones)

Urban Roots wants to establish a co-op nursery within Buffalo's city limits; amazingly (or not), there is only one nursery actually in the city of Buffalo. All the major nurseries are in the suburbs.

I think it's a great concept. Will I patronize it? Maybe. Urban Roots sold plants from an empty lot last year and they were mostly common annuals bought from a wholesaler. There was nothing interesting and no information about the cultivars they did have. The woman who called admitted that some of the current organizers of Urban Roots didn't know much about plants, and asked if I would advise on selection. I said I would and that I'd be happy to help them. (edit: I have since heard that a board with some real experts is bveing assembled.)

In any case, I think wanting to start a nursery should come from love of plants and knowledge about plants. Not just because it's better for urban dwellers to go to a nursery within city limits rather than drive to the suburbs.

We'll see how it plays out; in the meantime, I'll support them in spite of my caveats.


Jim said...

I was called for the same survey.

Some of my answers were similar, but location was higher on my list. I don't want to spend time getting to shopping. The fun part for me is planning and planting. Shopping's a chore.

I suggested they look at stocking plants that are suited to smaller properties. There's few places to buy columnar or dwarf varieties of trees in Buffalo. I'd like to see solutions for planting around tree bases.

I'd also like to see plant suggestions for the area between the sidewalk and road (some call the "hell strip") that can take a beating of heavy snow, salt and the occassional stepping on by neighborhood kids - there's got to be more out there than pachysandra.

A big selection of climbers would be great for city lots- but not the expected climbers everyone already has.

EAL said...

Perhaps our suggestions will spur these guys on, but if a short drive means getting the plants I need, then that's what I'll be doing.

There is plenty more out there than pachysandra. You might want to try mail order. I have gotten great and unsual groundcovers for easeway situations from Bluestone Perennials, which is one of the finest plant suppliers out there.

cityfarmer said...

Yep, passion is a key word.