Gardeners Supply Company - more than gardening.....

In the late 1970's and early 80's I worked for the now defunct Garden Way, Inc. in northern Vermont. I was hired to develop their greenhouse supplies catalog and write their solar greenhouse gardening manual ( I had a lot of experience in this). We were ahead of our time, I think, and full of idealistic fervor about  the power of gardening to make the world a better place.

I was susequently hired to develop plans (using my landscape architecture education) for their demonstration center promoting the Garden Way lifestyle. The 7 1/2 acre site was to have a composting demo, organic vegetable display gardens, chickens, turkeys and rabbits, canning info, solar panels, wood stoves - the whole works!  It also contained a new solar powered office building for the Garden Way corporation, makers of theTroybilt rototiller and the GardenWay Cart.

Alas, it all came crashing down in 1982 when the company had a 'coup' and the dreamers were thrown out by the business people.....the only one left standing was me. I had the unsavory task of dismantling the planned center and selling it off to a discount outlet shopping mall can shop at this mall in South Burlington, Vt. but I think I'll skip that trip.

Out of the ashes always rises the Phoenix: a young fellow named, Will Raap - he was one of the dreamers - decided to start his own unique version of the Garden Way approach and established a small company known as 'Gardener's Supply Company'.  He, and a few of the other Garden Way refugees, built this extraordinary company on the strength of their mission:

Gardener's Supply is in business to spread the joys and rewards of gardening, because gardening nourishes the body,elevates the spirit, builds community and makes the world a better place."

—Mission statement, 1984

It is a fabulous source of all things horticultural and more....they have a 3 acre display garden and free seminars in their store in Burlington, Vt.  Almost even more important, Will Raap has gone on to be an ecological activist supporting amazing causes around the world. These projects are all described in their website
And what did I do after Garden Way collapsed? I went on to get a graduate degree in planning. Only one person cautioned me against it,  saying "I got a graduate degree in planning - don't do it"...who was that? Will Raap......well, maybe he was right but Will is planning - just on a larger and a more glorious scale!


  1. I loved reading this post. I enjoyed my 'Garden Way' cart for many many years ... could use another one! Thanks for reminding me about Gardener's Supply... with a mission statement like theirs, who would not want to support them. I always try to inspire folks to stay away from Wal Mart and other big box stores. We should all be supporting suppliers like this. ;>)

  2. P. S. Do you know that as a new member over at Blotanical ... your blog is often featured... a great place to get more exposure for your work and to meet great bloggers. ;>)

  3. Thanks, carol! no I didn't know that - wow - I gotta go and check it out...
    I am new to all of this - but what a kick it is!

  4. Gardeners Supply is a wonderful catalogue and can be dangerous to the wallet :) Your story is terrific!!! keep the stories coming.

  5. Beautiful.... the pictures and words were a joy to see and read... :) Keep on posting :)


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