It was 2006 when I got the call from the USDA. Needless to say, being “a tad worried” was an understatement. I mean, really, what in the world did the USDA want with me, a budding entrepreneur just getting ready for her first big garden show-gig?

And, I was still feeling relatively new to the United States and I so didn’t want to jeopardize my standing in my new country. I thought I carefully followed all the protocol for registering as a retail nursery in the lovely state of Washington.

So, what did the USDA want with little ol’ me and my little Two Green Thumbs nursery?

Yours Truly, Janit Calvo with Cyndi B., my favorite USDA agent. (Okay, she’s the only one I know… :o)

Connecting with the Giant

So, I called Cyndi B. back and was met with a kind voice that basically said, “Hey, I see your shipping plants out of state, we need to get you inspected and registered to do that.” Cyndi had found me on the list of plant vendors for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show that year. I had no idea that I was supposed to be registered with the mighty USDA to ship plants – in 2006 e-commerce was just getting started – but of course, after Cyndi explained everything, it made perfect sense.

And the unseen guardrails attended by our fellow citizens appeared: some of the plants that I was dealing were hosts for Sudden Oak Death – a silent killer of forests through the country. After a little more insight into what was involved to ship these host plants, I decided to not even ship any host material at all.

Note: If you buy any plants online, make sure the business is registered with the USDA to ship plants out of their states. You wouldn’t want to be the person to release a disease to your neighborhood forests now, would you?

Now that is something!

Cyndi is retiring early next year and, after inspecting my little backyard nursery for 16 years, she has watched us grow this hobby from nothing to, well, something! Few in the professional horticulture world has acknowledged this new hobby, so I was always grateful for her enthusiasm whenever she came over. “I just have to look at everything first.” Cyndi would say, before getting serious for about the 5 minutes it takes to inspect my trees and plants.

It’s funny how some folks see the good citizens that work in the government like Cyndi as “the Feds” that are just out to get us. I see them our unsung heroes. I’ve since learned that if I’ve got nothing to hide nor am I doing anything wrong, why be afraid of any government agency? And, I’m sure working waist-deep in the bureaucracy of the US government every day is, at times, a test of patience and resilience. I know I couldn’t do it, I’m so glad Cyndi can!

Thank you Cyndi! For your service. And, for coming out to my backyard, the world’s smallest nursery. It’s been a pleasure to work with you and I’ll miss your annual August visit. Maybe you’ll have a little time for some miniature gardening now… :o)

Find out more about miniature gardening and the world’s smallest nursery, please visit our websites here and here.

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