Wards gather no moss
If there is a single family that is beloved by the people of Great Barrington, it has to be the Ward family. Their business, Ward’s Nursery and Garden Center, sets an example of how a business should be run. The present manager-owners, Greg and Mike Ward, took over from papa Don Ward, Jr. Every customer is treated with courtesy, the kind of treatment one rarely sees these days, with a few exceptions like Herrington’s in Hillsdale, N.Y.
In fact, the Ward boys treat each customer as if he or she was the most important person in the world. They will not rush you because they see someone with a roll of greenbacks behind you. They will take their time and tell you where to plant, how to plant and, if you want to pay for it, they will do a superb job of planting for you. Finally, they will stand behind their products. It may be a little more expensive than some other places but it is so worth it.
The Wards are the kind of people that you hardly see anywhere else except maybe in Jimmy Stewart’s “A Wonderful Life.”
Every generation of the family puts in their hours. You can tell that because they all look pretty similar. Another Ward brother, Tim, recently fell seriously ill and was moved east to a major medical facility. There has been a Ward family member with him, day after day after day. Now Tim’s getting better.
When it comes to putting in hours for good things in the neighborhood like the Lake Mansfield beautification effort, the Wards are always there. Greg is such an expert on things that flower and that are green that we constantly use him on WAMC as part of our gardening panel. It is a testimonial to the man that when I speak with him he always supports the other gardening experts who appear with him on the show. His mom and pop did some job raising their kids.
When the younger Wards took over from their dad, they faced a formidable task. But they had learned the business from the ground up and year after year, the operation has grown and prospered. They have continued their Christmas tradition of having all those animals for the kids to come and see and feed. Now they are embarking on a whole new adventure.
They have greatly increased the size of their place. You might say it is now one of the Wonders of the World, along the lines of the Sphinx, the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal. The new place is unbelievable and it went up in what seems like record time. On Saturday, May 15, the greatly expanded Ward’s will have a gigantic celebration of the new space. As always, they will be doing it right. There will be free gifts for the first 50 visitors, a storewide treasure hunt and a ribbon cutting ceremony that will be attended by the bigwig politicians.
Hey, if I were a politician I would want to pay my respects to one of the first families of the town. No doubt about it. The place is impressive.
Architect Anthony Barnaba and the Wards wanted a sustainable, green facility and that’s what they have. Because the Wards have been so good to so many people in our town, it would be great to see a huge turnout, not only to see the business and the buildings but to honor some wonderful people for what they have done to make Great Barrington a great place to live.
On another subject, I was shocked, I say shocked, to see a major purveyor of sugar to our children making a lighthearted attempt to repudiate a recent column of mine on the country’s sugar epidemic. Our health care costs will soon be totally out of control. Hey, this is no joking matter. We are facing a growing crisis as we see huge increases in diabetes and obesity.
The federal government and the state governments are well aware of the gravity of the situation. Hey, if someone has to be defensive about poisoning our kids with sugar, that’s on them. A lot of money has gone into a lot of businesses that do the same thing. You wouldn’t hand your kid a cigarette, would you?
The sugar purveyors always resort to saying, “Everything in moderation.” Soda and sugar consumption have gone through the roof in this country. We tax cigarettes. Now we should tax sugar to the hilt. When your doc tells you, a loved one or a child that they have diabetes, ask yourself this: “Is this a joke?” We’ve just got to wean ourselves from this stuff.
Originally Published in the Berkshire Eagle, 5/8/10