Ear to the Ground: The Insider Dirt to Gardening in Upstate NY

From the Publisher: March-April 2020

by janem on March 15, 2020

Twenty-five years ago this month, I published my first issue of Upstate Gardeners’ Journal. People have asked me since then what compelled me to do such a thing. I lived in the Park Avenue neighborhood of Rochester at the time and was studying ornamental horticulture at what was then Community College of the Finger Lakes. [Now Finger Lakes Community College. Rumor had it at the time that the name change was because the school kept getting mail addressed to “Community College of the Finger.”] There was a house with such a wonderful garden—it’s Vinnie Massaro’s garden and it’s still there and still wonderful—that I felt compelled to write about it. But then what? Shop it around? This was before the Internet got big, and getting published in local newspapers was more difficult than it is now. Also, I was working in my former grandmother-in-law’s business, which was … a local newspaper. But I was selling advertising, not having anything to do with the editorial side. 

That’s the background, but the part I usually tell people is about waking up in the middle of the night and exclaiming, “I’m going to start a gardening magazine!” Which is also true. 

But I wasn’t completely impractical, even in my early twenties. So I went around to some green industry professionals and asked, “If I do this thing, will you advertise?” And I got some loyal early supporters. That first year, Roger Powers of Powers Farm Market, Ken Hill of Rolling Hills Landscape, Duane Schenk at Country Corners Nursery, Ted Miller at Gardner’s Greenhouses, Sharon Coates and Steve Coates of Phoenix Botanical, and even Chase-Pitkin got on board! 

Since then, the UGJ has grown and grown. We’ve spread into Buffalo, Syracuse, and Ithaca, gone on lots of trips including two to the Chelsea Flower Show, made thousands of friends, and forged our own little company culture, mostly with everyone working remotely. It’s been a wonderful twenty-five years, and I’m looking forward, very much, to the future.

Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful spring!

Jane

Jane Milliman, Publisher

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