Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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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.

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.

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.”

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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