Community Voices - Chuck Annable

Chuck Annable picChuck Annable was the President/Horticulturist at Green Side Up Garden Center. He recently sold it to his employees.  He is an avid traveler and has visited 49 of the 50 United States. He loves to hike, canoe, and explore natural areas.

Q: How did you come to own Green Side Up Garden Center?

A: Well I was born in Oberlin, so I’m a long-time resident. I studied horticulture and environmental studies in college. I did that for about 12 years, then we had kids and I bought the video store downtown- did that for about 13 years, now I’m back in horticulture. The business was started by the Locke family in 1946.  When the second generation was ready to retire, they decided to find someone to take it on.  I was happy to do that until I realized how much work it was and my wife retired encouraging me to join her.  We added The Green Side Up part and kept the Locke’s name out of respect. So far it is still called Locke’s Green Side Up.

Q: When you think about Oberlin, what words or images come to mind?

A: I love and hate Oberlin as a businessperson. It’s comfortable for me, so I guess “home”- it’s home. It’s interesting to think about Oberlin when you’re away and what you miss about it. For instance, this morning I had coffee in Slow Train and I saw maybe a dozen people that I could have had conversations with.  It is an interesting and pleasant place to live and raise children.

Q: People have been using the word “sustainability” more and more to mean anything from political, social or environmental well-being- what’s your personal definition of “sustainability?”

A: Well, see I have issues with it. Because I was born into a family of outdoors people and that term did not exist when I was a kid- the term we used was “conservation.” And that meant to love, appreciate, and use nature wisely, so that’s basically what I think “sustainability” is. I’m glad people are coming around to it, I came to a point in my life where I needed to make a living, and I found a way to do that through a green business. There’s the extreme “earth first” point of view, but then you have to figure out how you are going to live in the world and make a living. People look at me and think, “oh, he’s a businessman.” but I’ve always tried to be a businessman in a green sort of way. I think what I do is really sustainable; I’ve never been extravagant. And on an individual basis, I think we helped a lot of people in this town to become better gardeners.

Q: So you’ve been talking about what makes Green Side Up conservation-oriented…is there anything that you do in your personal life to support the Oberlin community?

A: I’ve been on a lot of boards of nonprofits here in Oberlin, just trying to help people do things that are good for the community. I’ve been on the Oberlin History Center board, the Oberlin Community Improvement Corporation, The Bill Long Foundation and Workshop Players boards for example. We’re pretty involved in the school system with theater and band boosters.

Q: Why do you think it’s so important to be involved in those ways?

A: Well, I mean, we just live here, and we’re involved whether we want to be or not. I can’t say I do it for any altruistic reason- it’s just because we’re here and that’s what we do.

Q: Is there anything you would like to tell people in Oberlin about sustainability?

A: I just wish that everyone would take care of their selves first - If everyone could do the best they can for their situation. I think people need to look in the mirror and just do everything they personally can first and decide about how they’re going to use cars and resources and stuff like that. There needs to be an understanding of how to encourage nature, and allow nature, and do more personally to make a healthy environment. Green Side Up is here as a resource, and I wish more people would take advantage of the resources available in Oberlin.  So I’m just trying to enjoy our natural environments, kind of quietly. I don’t really have an axe to grind, teaching people about nature…I just sort of want them to find their own reason to come to it, enjoy it, protect it, and conserve it.

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Shane Clark is a 3rd year Environmental Studies major. She manages the Learning Garden at Prospect Elementary and is a member of the Contra Dance Club, the Pottery Co-op, and the Oberlin College Gab Year Students.



Photographer Info: Yvette Chen is a photographer for the Dashboard Project who is interested in the power of media and images. Originally from Princeton Junction, New Jersey, Yvette is a first year student at Oberlin College planning to study sociology and economics. Other than photography, in her spare time, she enjoys cooking and running through Ohio's rural landscapes.

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Guest March 15, 2017

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Shane Clark
Shane Clark is a 3rd year Environmental Studies major. She manages the Learning
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