2022 witnessed many hopeful milestones such as putting the pandemic (mostly) in the rearview mirror, plentiful jobs and our democracy demonstrating its resilience. The year also challenged us with inflation, rising food costs, a deteriorating economy and a war that has been anguishing to witness.
Similarly, Rise Gardens has experienced its share of celebrations and challenges. We opened the year with the Mexican government needlessly preventing us from importing our gardens and supplies for nearly two months. We finished the year with a big backlog due to a surge in growth and holiday sales. In between, we worked to support our tech team based in Ukraine, who do an amazing job building the Rise Gardens app. I am grateful - and often astounded - that they have continued to produce great work under such terrible conditions. It’s a tribute to human resilience and a stark reminder that many of us are fortunate to live in relative peace and prosperity.
We faced all of this and many other supply chain issues that the Rise Gardens team worked tirelessly to resolve and keep our customers happy, supplied and informed. There were hiccups for sure, but they were largely successful, and we’re grateful for all of the Rise Gardeners out there who are collaborating with us as we build a movement together that’s intent on making a difference.
We recognize that our gardens are an investment. But, we have built them with purpose to be highly productive and beautiful expressions of living plants and their abundance. Because of this, our gardens can pay for themselves in less than six months. They frequently surprise me with how productive and flexible they are.
We’re selling and donating more gardens than ever to schools, where the research shows it can make a significant impact on getting kids to eat a healthier diet. We will also soon be publishing some eye-popping year-end stats on the positive environmental impact our community has racked up while adding an enormous amount of nutrition to their diet through their Rise Garden.
Finally, we are very excited to introduce a new line of our flagship garden – the New Rise Garden. It has been a long journey to build the next generation of gardens. You will be hearing more about that in the coming weeks. It is one of many advances we have in store for you in the year ahead.
On a personal front, I also experienced a year of significant milestones and blessings. The most momentous of these was getting married this past summer to the lovely Jacqueline.
Some of you will remember the story I shared of our mutual loss and the hopeful story of our meeting and falling in love. We were lucky to share our union with family and friends in a beautiful ceremony in Madeira, Portugal this past June. With our wedding and four others this past year, we had many opportunities to celebrate with our extended families and toast new beginnings.
I also sent another son off to college so, between the two of us, we now have three in college and two at home. I’m proud to report that they are all thriving and a remarkable group of resilient young men. It’s now a boisterous household with all five boys back on break!
I love my job and I find it fulfilling to be fully immersed in family, civic, work and social engagements. I have many blessings to be thankful for and I genuinely hope you do as well.
I look forward to sharing another year of growing and sharing together. Through all of the challenges, we are collectively making a difference for school kids, for the environment, and for ourselves.