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by Melanie Rovinsky
Special to the Herald
With the launch of Cheshire’s newest and only home-gardening business, residents will be able to join the nation’s locavore movement to produce and consume locally grown foods.
Mario Pannone, Cheshire native and co-founder of Trans-Plant Gardening Services, launched his new business this spring to help individuals cultivate their own gardens. The Wallingford high school teacher teamed up with his friend and colleague, Charles Scalesse, to provide the area with made-to-order vegetable gardens and all the accompanying services.
“We basically show customers how to be self-sustainable,” Pannone said. “And, lucky for us, no one was yet offering the service.”
Trans-Plant Gardening Services allows both plant novices and experts to personally select the vegetables for their gardens. Pannone and Scalesse also till the garden, install the plants, and test and enrich the soil. The company provides follow-up services such as weeding and transplanting.
All of the plants installed by Trans-Plant are locally grown and no chemicals are used in the growing process. Pannone relies on peat moss, manure, lime, and compost to enrich the soil and produce thriving gardens. According to Pannone, tomatoes are the most commonly selected vegetable, followed by cucumbers and peppers. His personal garden boasts over 75 tomato plants, which he claims are his favorite.
Aside from his passion for gardening, Pannone recognizes the current movement towards local foods as a reason for starting his business.
“We love the whole locavore movement and we are responding to people’s fears about food,” Pannone said.
He explained that produce found in grocery stores travels thousands of miles before it makes it onto shelves and, as a result, the prices can get expensive. According to Pannone, gardening is a “terribly easy thing to do,” but individuals are often put off by the initial step of putting plants in the ground.
Pannone, who works part-time at the Hartford farmers’ markets for Joseph Arisco’s T & D Growers, has ready access to both plants and equipment. Pannone can till and plant an average 10-foot by 10-foot garden in just one to three hours, making the job easily performed around his teaching career. He credits his gardening knowledge to his mother, his father-in-law, the Arisco family, and Frank Papandrea of Tower Farms.
The services offered by Pannone and Scalesse are designed to provide individuals with a flourishing garden in just one to two seasons. Just a month and a half into their new venture, they are pushing to get the word out about what Pannone calls their “odd, unique service.”
“The best part of the job is we hang out at someone’s house, have a great time, and meet great people,” Pannone said.