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Where Do Your Garden Plants Come From?

2013 May 13

Greetings from New England!Each Monday we write about the New England environment and way of life seen through our local perspective. Previous posts

By Amy Miller

Did you know that our plants are grown right near here, my local greenhouse guy asks me. No I did not, I say. And?

And, apparently it’s time to get on board with locally grown plants.

I already know it’s good to buy from independent, local shopkeepers. I am well versed in how I should shop with the local grocer who keeps his money in the community bank and buys my son’s blackberries.

I even know it is a high cause to be a locavore, eating strawberries in June from the farm down the street and apples in autumn from trees in a nearby orchard. This saves on gas to transport the food, helps local farmers, protects the environment and nourishes your family with food that has a known provenance.

But I never really considered the origin of my basil, bulbs or bee balm.

This must be a hot new trend, though, because locally evolved, locally grown, and locally distributed plants already have an acronym of their own – LEG’D.  (Anyone know how you pronounce this?) And the benefits are many.

Flowers grown far away, in South America for instance, might be sprayed with chemical preservatives and refrigerated so they can be shipped thousands of miles. But the shipping and the refrigeration use significant energy. And the chemicals to make sure the flowers last also must be manufactured and shipped. Local flowers aren’t likely to need refrigeration or chemicals to get to us fresh.

The flowers from my local greenhouse also fuel the economy of my community. These purchases create jobs and since they involve fewer middlemen, they are either less expensive or at least the profits are staying nearby.

Some people say that LEG’D flowers and plants are naturally fresher. Some groups advocate having all decorative plants be locally evolved, grown and distributed.

Indigenous plants are more likely to tolerate the soil and weather in New England, where lows can range from 0 in Connecticut to -50 in parts of Maine, putting New England in Planting Zones 3 to 6. Native species have also evolved for other location conditions and are less likely to attract new exotic insects or diseases. Finally, native species often need less water or fertilizer.

The down side may be that deer or other animals eat local plants. A farm store can tell you what to do about that. I just had my dog mark the territory around the plants. But just in case, we built a double fence around the vegetables.

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, eight chickens, dusky conure, chicken-eating dog and a great community.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Arman.- permalink
    May 13, 2013

    Flower And Desert……

    Perhaps the desert always cry hopes the flowers to be grow there. It was ask to their Mom why just only there the flowers have been grown, not here in my homeland. And next, if the human journey to the others planets, could they bring its and could be grow there…???

  2. Drew Pilant permalink
    May 13, 2013

    Very informative, timely and important, Amy- thanks!
    Another clear argument for sustainability.

  3. Anni permalink
    May 17, 2013

    This is a good time to remind people that the 2009 late blight pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of tomato plants in the Northeast originated from plants grown and distributed by a single large distributor from the southern US. These plants were sold at K-Mart, Home Depot, Walmart, and other big box stores. The spores become airborne and just a few infected plants in someone’s backyard garden could infect plants in gardens nearby. Some farmers lost their entire crops, almost overnight.

    Please don’t buy garden plants at a big box store. Buy from a local grower. It’s not worth the dollar you save on a six-inch pot.

  4. Survivor permalink
    May 19, 2013

    Thank you for good information.

  5. Luigi permalink
    May 23, 2013

    Being local is all about using the resources of your community to the mas. There are many cities that have community gardens, and this is an old trend that new seems to be picking up. There editable gardens now being considered for Model Cities all across the US. Is amazing to see an interest from the Government, now that is lacking funding to pay for social/community/health projects, to promote sustainability and green considerations of food, as well as building and transportation.
    It’s not too far when the day arrives that people pick their own tomatoes and herbs from their own backyards, or the building they are going to work to, or from community garden in the way home from work. This healthy life style will stick once is all implemented.
    Oh yes, and the savings will be more than encouraging, less imports, more sustainable and independent.
    Cheers!
    Luigi

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