Repotting Hanging BasketsAt the bustling Spring 2019 market, hanging baskets are one of the more popular customer purchases, and Perry Wellness Center founder and CEO Stuart Perry knows that the customer is always right!

“With our increase in market customers and our mobile market, we are working to meet customer requests. Our hanging basket market is thriving, and we are working to meet demand,” Stuart explains.

Staff are hard at work on repotting plants to prepare them for sale. The transfer of a plant for a growing part to its hanging basket can be a delicate process. To make that process as efficient as possible, Stuart has passed on to market staff a trick of the trade he learned from his parents.

Rudy’s Happy Patch Market staff member Debbie Bissallion says, “Stuart showed me the way to cleanly cut the bottom roots of the plants and save the soil. We will experiment with the roots that are cut and will possibly grow a new plant.” She adds, “Stuart believes in re-using all we can in this market.”

Debbie notes that customers are buying the newly planted hanging baskets as quickly as she can prepare them. “For now,” she concludes, “We are working to provide what our customers need.”

In the photo above, Debbie Bissallion completes another replanting at the market. 

Weeding spinachEducators talk about a “teachable moment” – a moment that naturally arises to share relevant information or even a life lesson. Sometimes the most simple task can lead to an important life lesson.

Perry Wellness Center staff member Randi Duncan recently took advantage of a teachable moment to share an important message with peer Jimmy Sellars. As they worked together on a bed of spinach – weeding and removing spent leaves in a planting box, Randi began to speak about the similarities between what they were doing and what people need to do in their own lives.

“We are only pruning this young spinach,” she explained to Jimmy. “By doing these old leaves through harvesting or plant care, we must learn to do this in our lives.  We need to cut out toxic relationships and increase mental nutrients from good ones. Plants need to be fed good food nutrients to live and grow. So do we. We need to discover more good in life to help us mature and have power to help others.”

As Jimmy focused his efforts on plant care, he also listened to Randi’s words, taking them to heart. “This simple action to take care of plants has taught me to focus on good people and good things,” told his companion. “This has been fun, talking with you and helping this plant to live and grow.”

A good mentor can leave lasting impressions through a few simple words. A mundane task such as gardening can provide the opportunity for profound change in individuals’ lives. Thanks, Randi and Jimmy, for reminding us!

Repeat customersOne way that Perry Wellness Center founder and CEO Stuart Perry judges customer satisfaction at the campus market is by the number of familiar faces. At Rudy’s Happy Patch Market, return customers are the norm.

“I am excited about the number of people that discover us and return,” Stuart says. “’Word of mouth’ about our service and our fresh produce and plants is creating another great year at Happy Patch Market.”

On a recent day, return shoppers Annelle and Guataloupe stopped by the market. Once small shoppers for special items, they now fill a wagon with a variety of selections from the market.

Annelle explains, “It is fun to shop here and know that we are supporting a good cause in our area.”

In the photo above, Guadaloupe, left, and Annelle, discuss product selection with market staff member Martha Augood, as staff member Steve Thompson works behind the counter and welcomes customers to Rudy’s Happy Patch Market.

Tomato plant standsApproximately three years ago, Perry Wellness Center founder and CEO Stuart Perry made the decision to adopt tomatoes as a year-round produce offering at Rudy’s Happy Patch Market. Between raising them on campus and obtaining them from local growers, the market has been able to ensure year-round availability of fresh, ripe tomatoes.

Stuart explains, “The tomato market has been so great that we buy boxes from several vendors in Southwest Georgia. We also plant our own and allow peers to raise them and take the harvest home with them or sell them to Happy Patch. It is great that more people are enjoying southern tomatoes!”

This spring, any open space in the market, grounds, or greenhouses is filled with growing plants and produce. Tomato stands occupy space around the market area and line the walk to the campus pavilion. 

Stuart sums up his tomato strategy simply: “I do not plan to come close to giving out this season!”

In the photo above, freshly planted tomatoes are attended to by garden staff member Martha Augood.

As many supporters of Perry Wellness Center and Rudy’s Happy Patch Market know, the roots of the thriving gardens and market produce trace back to the backyard gardens and greenhouses of founder and CEO Stuart Perry’s childhood home. For many years, the late Tom Perry and his wife, Mary, sold plants they raised there at the family service station and store in downtown Buena Vista. Young Stuart watered and monitored the plants and began his lifelong love of gardening. 

Mary Perry“It is great to have that gene about plants,” Stuart says today. “I guess Mother and Dad realized the joy and business potential of fresh and colorful plants. Tom’s Standard Station (now the Gas and Go at the traffic light in Buena Vista) was a real learning experience for me.”

At the first spring visit of Rudy’s Happy Patch Market’s mobile market to Buena Vista recently, Mary Perry attended the event and dispensed plant care advice to the many customers who stopped by. 

“Geraniums love snuff and diluted Epson salt with their water,” she told one customer. “Don’t overdo it, but give them some of this along during the growing season. They will have more blooms.”

Accompanied by “Aunt Betty,” the Perry family matriarch visited with family and friends and enjoyed the collection of plants displayed for the 2019 opening of the mobile market. But she kept true to a more important mission, saying with a smile, “I used this time to remind the guys of the proper nourishment for these plants.”

Thank you, Mary Perry, for spreading the family legacy of plant care.

In the photo above, Mary Perry, seated, and Stuart, at left, chat with Aunt Betty, visiting from Albany. 

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