At Willy Street Co-op our fiscal year runs from July through the end of June. What a year it has been! Because of all the Owners, customers, and the dedicated staff at every site, Willy West has exceeded all expectations. I believe I speak for everyone here at West when I say, “We’ve only just begun!” We have tried to make the store a pleasant place to shop with carefully chosen great selections. Our wine set is unique. We feature lots of handmade items you won’t find anywhere, and we’re making our own sausages, juice blends, salads and entrées in the Deli. This is our dream unfolding at Willy Street Co-op.

Some projects at Willy West were spontaneous events that just popped up out of nowhere. For instance, I was standing in the parking lot one day with our landlord Aaron looking at the Parkwood Plaza from our end. I remembered some comments from Owners who expressed a desire to see Willy West as an extension of the East store (the mothership as some call it.) Lynn Olson, Director of Cooperative Services, described it as “putting some funk in the look.” So I asked Aaron if we could take control of the landscaping in front of the store. He readily agreed and offered to help wherever he could. So here’s an update and some shout outs to some unexpected contributor.:

1. This large tractor rim fell off a truck bound for the scrap-yard a few years ago and bounced into a ditch near my house. The driver of the truck said, “You can have it if you really want it because it will be hell to re-load on my truck.” I wrestled it home and my kids painted it. It’s full of one-part topsoil from my place, one-part Purple Cow Organics’ compost from our own General Merchandise Department, and one-part organic compost from Weststar Farms. As you can see for yourself, the flowers love it! And for those flowers I wish to acknowledge Mimi from Black Earth whose great little spring seedling business under the Great Maple tree in Black Earth donated the cosmos, the coneflowers, and the beautiful petunias. Thanks!

2. A while ago a freakish windstorm tore some big branches off the trees across the street from our store. A tree removal crew was called the next day to clean up. As I saw them cut up these large logs I knew I had an opportunity. I walked over and asked the crew chief if we might have some of the larger chunks. “Sure!” he said with twinkle in his eye, :How you gonna get it across the street?” “I’ll be right back!” I said. I rushed back with a cart and we rolled it on and I managed to cross the street with it. In minutes I had stood it up, dug it in, planted some flowers in one of our pots and stood there smiling at it while the guys across the street were laughing at it all. “There’s some funk alright!” I thought. And the idea caught on. A few minutes later a skid loader crossed the street with another log and the driver said, “Where do you want this one?” I said “Drop it right here!” So thanks to Mother Nature and some cooperative guys I’d never met before, we have some great plant stands that hold some fine flowers.

3. As a safety measure, we had our maintenance guy Bryan make a planter box in the entryway so cars cannot block the ramp needed for grocery carts and wheelchairs. The flowers are courtesy of K and A Greenhouses on Mineral Point Road whose owners shop here and saw the opportunity to contribute. Thanks, K and A!

4. Our patio planters have some perennials donated by all sorts of folks who took an interest, and also feature flowers I sprouted under a neat LED grow light here in my office. The seeds we sell are from Seed Savers Exchange. This is quite a summer for flowers, and I want to thank all the customers who stopped to admire and inquire how we get them to look so healthy. I always point to the Purple Cow; it is the secret ingredient!

The events of this summer may prompt some of you tired of trying to maintain a lawn to convert some or all of it to a more durable, permanent landscaping of perennials. Come get some Purple Cow Organics Compost and free advice about what to do with it!

5. In the back I should not forget a work-in-progress. In spite of triple-digit heat and no rain for weeks, we have an employee garden started by all the kids who came for “Take Your Kids to Work Day” last spring. Hey kids, your plants are rockin’!

6. And one last shout out that says it all to me and is something we are so proud of:
This is an owner named Kimberly who said I could print her picture and her comment: “I come from Sussex, Wisconsin because your stores are the only ones I know of that keep all the organic food away from any contamination. I need to limit my diet strictly to pure food for my health, and I’m willing to drive an hour-and-a-half to get food I trust.”

Wow, Sussex! Willy Street Co-op—your home of the highest standards with the commitment to keep it that way.

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