The recent Late Blight attack in the east coast has brought to the forefront concerns about mass merchants and their suppliers. When you have one supplier producing all the vegetable plants for box stores nation wide, when trouble happens it can happen in a big way. Bonnie plants has been in the forefront of this recent episode. Bonnie is the box stores supplier of choice for vegetable plants. I received a comment that I assume was sent by Bonnie, since it explains their side of the story, yet it is not signed. What I don't understand is why this is not on their web site? Why take the time to send me a press release but not print it at their website? Whether the infection occurred at the Bonnie greenhouses or not, the press had already made it's judgement.
Bonnie did what any responsible greenhouse grower would have done. Bonnie is a huge operation with many horticultural experts. The idea that they tried to hide this, or knowingly sent out infected plants doesn't add up. This is more a story about what happens when large agribusiness controls a huge portion of the consumers choice at retail. When stuff goes bad it can affect many, many people.
Bonnie is not a bad company, nor are the Box Stores. They just operate from a different viewpoint than the smaller, locally owned nursery. The horticultural world has divided into two distinct camps, the mass merchant and the independent. It's been going on for a while, with the result that many smaller businesses went out of business, when the mass merchant rolled into town. Sometimes the mass merchant increased the choices for a community, when they were not adequately served by an existing independent. I think the tables are starting to turn, with the increase of interest in buying local. The chains are also having a harder time sourcing plants since a few of their suppliers have gone out of business. Interesting times.