Spring of 2016 will be Sugarbush Nursery’s final season in business. We’ll open for spring sales with our usual inventory of organic seeds, herbs, and veggies, along with all of our native plants, but then during the month of June, we’ll begin reducing our inventory. We’ll stay open until we’ve found a good home for every native perennial, shrub and tree in our sales and growing areas, and then close our doors for good – hopefully by the end of June. And yes, there will be sales.
As some of my customers know, Sugarbush is, and always has been, my hobby business. Since 2005, I’ve run it alongside my full-time job in the non-profit field, and the raising of our two sons.
Sugarbush has been a labor of love for me. I’ve been able to put my own philosophies into action and share them with hundreds of people, and this has been immensely rewarding. From the day we opened, we cared for our plants using only organic methods. While this might not seem radical, the so-called “green” horticultural industry is heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers and pest controls to keep those “new introductions” looking like they just stepped out of a showroom (or, in many cases, a breeding lab). But biologically, everything leaves its imprint, and long-term damage in exchange for short-term good looks was a compromise I was not willing to make. When I read Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home in 2009, my life-long love of gardening, commitment to environmental sustainability, and fascination with the natural world and all of its intricate, often unseen connections, came together in one life-altering realization: native plants are absolutely crucial to the functioning of our ecosystem, and I could help facilitate that in my little corner of the world.
The beauty of running a sole proprietorship is that you can make course corrections without reference to anyone or anything but your own ideals and objectives. My ideal was to ensure that Sugarbush was that local place where people could gather some of the pieces of our global puzzle and re-assemble them in their own backyards: giving butterflies the host plants they need to reproduce on, giving bees sources of pollen and nectar not contaminated by neonicotinoids, giving insects the leaves of plants they consider food, so they can reproduce and hold their own in the circle of life that absolutely depends on their thriving numbers, giving enthusiastic cooks the flavorful and healthy organic herbs and veggies they could use to create vitality and well-being within their families. And finally, one of the most compelling reasons of all (for gardeners, at least): giving people the opportunity to discover and fall in love with our native plants, simply because they are beautiful.
My love and commitment has not changed over these 12 years, but sadly, my willingness to part with so much of my free time has. It’s time to bring things back into balance in an even smaller corner of my world – the one that includes me, my family, and our 2 ½ acres here in Berks County.
Of course, Sugarbush has worked for this long not only through my own efforts, but through the efforts and support of many, many people. First and foremost, I want to thank all of our customers over the years. We see many of you year after year, and know many of you by name or by sight. We’ve traded stories and shared successes. Quite simply, Sugarbush was able to exist because of you. I have also had the opportunity to work with marvelous employees who have shared their time, talents, energy and enthusiasm with Sugarbush. I want to thank Lois, Teresa, Ryonne, Jan, Denise, Marlelle, Robyn, Randi, Diona, Barb, Carlo, and Dasha for their crucial contributions to this venture. I thank my husband, who built the benches, sales counter, website, and provided unlimited tech support – and who allowed himself to be persuaded to move from Texas back to my hometown, so I could pursue the dream I had hatched when I was just 15. And last but not least, my entire extended family pitched in to help whenever I needed it. I can’t thank them enough for their generous support.
For anyone who’s still with me at the end of this long blog entry, thanks for reading! And I hope to see you this spring for one last season at Sugarbush.