Gardener’s Supply Company: “Why We Love Summervale!”
We love our Summervale sponsors! Not only do these fantastic businesses help bring Summervale to you, they also support the Intervale Center’s mission, sustaining farms, land, and people. Each week, we’ll feature interviews with our Summervale sponsors. This week, we spoke with Maree Gaetani atGardener’s Supply Company.
Tell us a little bit about your business and your role in Vermont’s vibrant local economy.
Gardener’s Supply was started by avid gardeners in 1983 at a time when ‘organic gardening’ was considered fringe. We’re now known nationally through our catalog and online store. We’re 100% employee-owned and donate 8% of our profits back to the community.
Why do you support the Intervale Center’s work strengthening community food systems?
I’d say our ‘roots’ are in the Intervale and it’s a part of our story. Our founder, Will Raap, learned that his stolen car had been found here, and at that time this was a misused, mistreated piece of land that would never be developed because it was a floodplain. Raap recognized the value in the Intervale’s agricultural past. Underneath all the junk and debris, Will Raap saw potential for revitalizing local agriculture, as well as providing a much-needed destination for outdoor recreation within the city. Cleanup efforts began in 1987 when Gardener’s Supply founded the Intervale Center. Almost 1,000 tires and a 350-car illegal junkyard were removed so that the floodplain’s nutrient-rich soil would once again see the light of day. Gardener’s Supply and community-minded politicians, educators, businesspeople and others began to see the beauty of the Intervale, and the ideas and opportunities grew. The Mayor of Burlington was a guy named Bernie Sanders and his successor Peter Clavelle were strong supporters. Did you know the Intervale was home to one of the first CSAs in the country (Intervale Community Farm)? And thanks to the farmers, Travis’s leadership and all of the Intervale Center’s staff and volunteers, it’s now one of the top sustainable agriculture non-profits in the country.
What is your favorite part of Summervale? There’s so much to love about Summervale – whether it’s kids dancing to the music, learning more about honeybees at one of the info tables, tasting a new herb or vegetable and learning more about a local farm or food vendor – it’s all wonderful.
If Gardener’s Supply Company were a food dish or cuisine, what would it be, and why? As a 100% employee-owned company, I’d say we we’re a locally-grown Mesclun Salad because we’re a group of people with a variety of skills and flavors that all come together to help people enjoy their gardens – whether it’s growing one flowerpot on a city balcony or a backyard vegetable garden or a market flower-cutting garden.