On a Saturday afternoon in mid-March, Patty Mullen was on duty as manager at Pot Town Organics, which opened in October, 2014, in the building that formerly housed the venerable Artz Hardware.
The visit illuminated connections with a forerunner organic gardens farm, a nearby restaurant, and a county solar power vendor.
Pot Town Organics is owned and operated by Janet and Ron Heishman, long known, and admired, for their Gabalot Gardens enterprise, established in 1996 on, of all places, Green Acre Drive.
The Heishman’s newest venture offers an extensive and eclectic variety of items – from seeds, plants, and soils, to herbs, spices, flours, canning supplies, gardening tools, animal feed, and a just-added selection of essential oils.
“Sam Artz cut the ribbon at our Grand Opening,” Mullen said. “We started with organic fertilizers, pesticides and seeds [in the front room]. We kept growing and added craft items so we’re now on the O Shenandoah Artisan Trail.”
The back room houses many additional specialized items.
“Here we have wooden cutting boards made by Strasburg High School students, hemp products, glass canning supplies by Weck, from Germany, and 60-grain vinegar,” Patty explained.
The spice shelves include Saigon Vietnamese group cinnamon, Himalayan pink coarse salt, turmeric powder, coconut milk powder, and Matcha powder.
The Weck glass canning jars come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
“We can’t keep them on the shelf, because people are buying them for crafts for all kinds of uses,” Mullen said.
And you can continue your gardening indoors from October to March, even with fussy and delicate plants, with a Grow Tent (kits available).
Local farm products available year-round include eggs, Amish butter, culture starters, and local meats.
At the back of the store are organic bulk feeds for chickens and rabbits.
In a stroke of superb luck, Wendy Willis, co-owner and co-executive chef with her sister, Cristina, of Cristina’s Café, located a mere two doors west of Organics, stopped in to purchase three varieties of radish seeds.
“I’m super-thrilled that [Pot Town Organics] is here and we’ve been doing business with Janet and Ron Heishman for over 10 years,” Willis said.
“I really appreciate Janet’s visionary thoughts on spearheading organic in the Valley and helping it grow, because she’s the first [to do so] in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and she has a lot of support from the community. People trust her and she’s always made her products accessible to the general public. She’s made them affordable instead of organic being elitist or costly.”
As for those three varieties of radishes, “Our kitchen manager has lately become obsessed with tacos, so she’s making pico de gallo, and the radishes help make chunky, spicy, sauces for the tacos,” Willis said.
The covered driveway on the east side of the shop, and parking lot in the rear, will be the location of the Strasburg Farmers Market, to be open on Saturday mornings, starting April 16th.
And the “green-ness” of Pot Town Organics doesn’t end with the inventory. The shop is powered by a 5KW roof-top solar power array, from Shenandoah Energy Services of Edinburg.
From front to back doors, along the driveway, and on the roof, Pot Town Organics is a down-to-earth, compact, super-store selling food for plants, humans and animals, as well as tools and crafts.
Contributed by Dennis Atwood, member of the Shenandoah Forum Board of Directors.