ImageMany communities have a farmer's co-op. They serve the commercial farmer or rancher with products geared for large operations, but did you know that they also cater to the home gardener? They stock vegetable seed and bedding plants that are proven winners in their community. If you are dealing with a specific condition or pest, chances are, they know all about it and have the supplies to properly treat the problem.

Along with the familiar kiosks filled with small seed packets, they offer a wide range of varieties in greater quantities. People with larger gardens can choose the amount of seed that best fits their needs. The prices are generally much better in bulk and the half-acre of corn that you envision won't have to be planted from dozens of tiny packets containing just a few seeds. My co-op stocks a wide range of open pollinated and hybrid vegetable seed and the prices are very reasonable. The varieties they offer are time-tested and thrive in the local climate and conditions.

ImageSeed potatoes, onion sets and slips, and bedding plants in season are just a few of the offerings for the home gardener. Because the staff usually gardens, the live plants are generally healthier and better cared for than their sad counterparts at the big box store down the street. They order various breeds and species of poultry and live fish for stocking ponds.

ImageYour local farm store stocks a wide range of traditional and organic fertilizer, fruit tree sprays and pest control along with wire fencing, seed starting supplies and hand tools. Many of their tools are of better quality that the offerings at the big box stores.

My co-op has a huge selection of wild bird products, feeds and nest boxes. They sponsor workshops and lectures from various suppliers on how to get the most out of your bird feeding experience. There's a huge section for dog and cat food, treats and toys. Puppy obedience classes are available and they also stock poultry, rabbit and horse supplies.

If you've never been inside your local farm store, it's time to take a trip. From hummingbird feeders to tomato cages, gardeners find products and advice geared to their situations. You don't have to be a big farmer with acres of crops. Your local co-op store is just as happy to help you with a squirrel-proof birdfeeder or seed starting suppllies for a few tomato plants. They're your neighbors and will be delighted to have you visit!

A big thanks to the Co-op in Marshall County, Kentucky. The images in this article were taken in their store.