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Gardeners are among the most generous people out there – we all know it to be true. We just love sharing what we grow and what we know. There are so many ways for gardeners to give, as many as there are gardeners, really.
I was fortunate to grow up with a huge vegetable garden every summer, enough to provide fresh, frozen and canned vegetables to carry us through the whole year. But when my sister and I grew up and left home, my dad wasn’t ready to give up his gigantic garden. So that spring, my parents offered the church youth group two “Garden Passes” to auction off at their annual fundraiser. Purchasers of the passes received total access to my parents’ garden all season long, as much as they cared to harvest. Dad tended to the garden, and Mom sent emails to the pass-holders to let them know what was ready to pick, and give instructions on how to harvest at the peak of ripeness. In the years since, they’ve sold up to six passes a year, raising hundreds of dollars for youth mission trips and bringing many grateful families to their garden.
But my parents are not the only giving gardeners I know. There’s the family in our town who has a pay-what-you-can farm stand in their garage, with the proceeds going to the local food shelf. There’s the parent at our daycare who brings freshly-cut flowers every so often to brighten up the entry way. (Mmmm… spring lilacs…) The retired Chief Marketing Officer from my former employer volunteers to tend to the flowers in his community’s park.
Our family tries to give the gift of gardening, too. We share any extra vegetables with coworkers and neighbors, or put at the end of the driveway with a “Free” sign the girls created. My husband led a canning class at the local garden center and has volunteered with the local Master Gardener chapter. And I do an annual demonstration at our daughters’ childcare center to teach kids what their food looks like when it’s growing. They love digging through a bucket of dirt to find potatoes and eating carrots with the tops still attached.
Looking for a way to be a more giving gardener?
Save glass jars to serve as vases for bouquets of flowers. Deliver them to your local hospital or nursing home and ask that they be given to someone who hasn’t had recent visitors or flowers.
Volunteer to plant or tend to a small garden at a school, park or other community space.
Contact your local Master Gardeners chapter. Even if you aren’t a Master Gardener yourself, they can provide you with opportunities to volunteer.
Share your knowledge with the gardeners at a nearby community garden or in an online forum.
Investigate now to see which local food shelves will accept your extra produce next summer.
Organize a neighborhood plant swap in the spring for divided perennials and extra vegetable plants that were started from seed.
No matter how you choose to give, give thanks for the beauty and bounty that Mother Nature has provided!