Letters

Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The Grow Store
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The Grow Store

Robert Downes - November 29th, 2010
Let the Sun Shine: The Grow Store trips the light fantastic
By Robert Downes
If Paul Watson has a pair of green thumbs, it’s because he spent 31 years as a commercial indoor grower, raising basil under artificial lights in Benzie County for local restaurants.
“Indoor growing is a lot of fun,” he says. “My passion for this started out with plugging in my first light bulb in 1980.”
Today, Paul’s thumbs are getting even greener from a crop of dollars provided by customers at The Grow Store he owns with his wife Kim. At times, as many as 20-30 customers pack the store near Chum’s Corners, south of Traverse City, seeking high-quality equipment for indoor growing, as well as the Watsons’ advice.
“We are as surprised as anyone by our success,” he says of the business which got its start in April of 2009. “We’ve got a huge amount of inventory as well as the knowledge to share about indoor growing.”
In fact, things are going so well that the Watsons plan to open a new 10,000-square-foot showroom and warehouse in mid December a half-mile down the road. In addition to a wealth of organic gardening materials and lighting equipment (which are literally stacked to the ceiling in the present store), the new location will offer displays of growing plants, with both hydroponic and soil-based systems for the enlightenment of customers.

ORGANIC INTEREST
The Watsons are riding the crest of a boom of interest in indoor growing. In addition to the medical marijuana movement, their customers include people who are fired up about growing their own organic food. They also have customers who are members of the local bonsai and orchid-growing clubs, and even some who are interested in indoor growing as a therapy for seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
“I’m all about organic growing,” Watson says. “I have Krohn’s disease, so I try to eat organic as much as possible. Chemical fertilizers contain heavy metals that create diseases, since they don’t pass out of the body. So I advise my customers on better, organic options.”
Watson, 56, has pursued an organic diet for the past 25 years. He also ran a large, indoor basil-growing operation at the top of the hill in Benzonia for many years. Since his powerful lights could be seen shining down on the county jail and sheriff’s department at the bottom of the hill, he took care back then to invite the local prosecutor and cops in for a visit to check out his operation.
With that kind of background, he’s a powerhouse of knowledge. “I’m able to advise customers ranging from individuals who are starting indoor gardens, to businesses which have greenhouse issues,” he notes.
“A lot of people are confused about what’s involved in indoor growing,” he adds. “They don’t know how to set their rooms up, or how to handle ventilation. We’re all about education here.”
As an example, he recently worked with a couple of women who had started a business growing cherry tomatoes. When their agri-savvy partners abruptly left the business, the women found themselves with 700 tomato plants, but not the expertise to save their crop. Watson was able to steer them to a solution.

GROWING ISSUES
One thing that he and The Grow Store staff can’t discuss, however, is how to grow marijuana.
“I’m a medical marijuana patient myself and have my card, but we can’t offer seminars or give advice on anything that’s specifically about growing marijuana because that’s a violation of federal laws involving conspiracy and complicity issues,” he says. “That’s something for members of the compassion clubs to discuss, but here we talk tomatoes.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of other indoor growing topics to discuss. Peppers, for instance. “You wouldn’t believe how competitive pepper growers are,” Watson says.
There are also many organic growers in the region interested in producing their own fresh, chemical-free veggies and herbs. “We’re the only source for 100% organic nutrients north of Grand Rapids,” Watson says. “We feel good about it because I know personally that what goes into the body makes or breaks you.”
There’s also a technical aspect to indoor growing, which can involve either soil or hydroponic gardens. “We’ve got all of the equipment you could possibly think of, from hydroponic kits right out of the box to equipment for people with the McGyver mentality who want to do it their own way.”

BUILDER BONANZA
The success of the store has meant a mini-boom for local plumbers, electricians and contractors who are working to help set up indoor gardeners. Local businesses such as Home Depot, Menard’s and Lautner’s Irrigation have also benefited by supplying hardware needs.
The Watsons see every kind of customer imaginable: doctors, accountants, little old ladies interested in organic gardening, and of course, medical marijuana patients seeking to grow their own medicine.
One interesting development is the sale of indoor kits for people trying to alleviate the effects of seasonal affective disorder caused by Northern Michigan’s long, dark winter.
“Our lighting systems resupply natural light and vitamin D,” Watson says. “When people who have SAD spend a couple of hours in their grow rooms tending plants and loving them, it has a really positive effect. They come in here in January with the biggest smiles on their faces.”
Needless to say, the Watsons are thrilled with the prospect of their new showroom/warehouse, opening in mid-December, to be located at 90 N. US 31 South, next to Great Escapes.
 
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