I have been in a lot of arenas both personally and professionally in my life and have met an incredibly diverse group of people. But I gotta tell you, I don’t think–as a whole–that I’ve ever met a group as generous as gardeners.
As we enter this holiday season, it feels like the perfect time to laud specific gardeners who I’ve crossed paths with and who have continually opened their hearts and given to causes because generosity is just part of the fiber of who they are.
The first person that comes to mind is Annie Haven of Haven’s Brand Natural Tea, affectionately nicknamed Moo Poo Tea. Up until 5 years ago, I only knew Annie from casual interaction on Facebook. But within a day after I wrote an article about creating a new garden in a Mediterranean climate, she contacted me to say that she would love to send me some Moo Poo Tea. When I explained that I lived in Israel, that didn’t deter Annie. Within a week, I received a large box filled with a wonderful assortment of Annie’s miracle brew.
You see, for Annie, like all of the people mentioned in this article, they are passionate about what they do and the positive imprint they leave on our earth.
So you’d think that after I did a YouTube video (see below) about my new rooftop garden in 2013 and mentioned how much I loved Moo Poo Tea ( it is incredible stuff!) that Annie would fade into the woodwork. To the contrary.
I have been the recipient of Annie’s generosity time and again–not just through her product–but in her support of my writing and community projects. And I have witnessed her over the years supporting dozens of other gardeners.
2. Jere Gettle of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has a wonderful story to share. He started gardening at the age of 3 and by the time he was 17, in 1988, he published his first Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog. The rest is history. Today the company has grown to offer 1750 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs—the largest selection of rare, heirloom varieties in the U.S.A.
After I began buying from Baker Creek on a regular basis, I wrote an article about Jere called How A Child’s Passion Grew Into Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
When I decided to initiate a community garden in West Philadelphia this past spring, Jere was one of two seed companies that I approached for donations. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is now an integral part of our edible garden at Lombard Community Garden and Learning Center.
3. The other seed company that I approached about helping us grow an edible garden for the soup kitchen at Lombard Central Community Garden and Learning Center was Renee’s Garden. Renee immediately responded with a big ‘yes’ and sent a magnificent array of seeds that I had handpicked.
Anyone who has bought Renee’s seeds knows the feeling of buying seeds from an artisan. Each packet is decorated with a beautiful watercolor illustration of the seeds at maturity. Renee personally selects all vegetable, flower, and herb seeds which include time-tested heirlooms, certified organic seeds, international hybrids and open-pollinated varieties.
4. And then there’s Derk De Wit of DeWit Garden Tools. When I was asking around for donations for the community garden last spring, Annie Haven suggested that I contact Derk. Derk didn’t know me from a hole in the wall. But wouldn’t you know that not only did he agree to donate some tools for the project but when I opened the box in Philly last spring, there were more trowels and weeders than I ever expected. For those of you who don’t know, DeWit Garden Tools is a family run business that has been making quality tools in Holland since 1898. Trust me, once you hold one of their trowels in your hand, you’ll be hard pressed to trade it for another.
Photo from DeWit Garden Tools
Derk never asked for any p.r. on his behalf in relationship to the project. He donated the tools because that’s just who he is – as did Jere Settle of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed, Renee of Renee’s Garden, and Annie of Haven’s Brand Natural Tea.
5. Miriam Goldberger and I met this past winter at the Philadelphia Flower Show. I knew that she was passionate about her work from one skype call we had had the previous fall but when we met in person, her ebullience was palpable. When Miriam found out that I was initiating a community garden in West Philadelphia, she didn’t ask if I was thinking about creating a wildflower garden; she told me that ‘I must’. When I received a lovely variety of wildflowers from Wildflower Farm this spring, I tucked them away and knew that they would find their rightful place. And they certainly did. The students from Drexel University and friends ended up laying out and rototilling a pie shaped meadow that became a part of the garden. Because we got such a late start this past spring, we planted much of the meadow with perennials and potted annuals. But by late summer and into early fall, the meadow was taking off with seeds. No doubt that the meadow will be a huge conversation piece this coming spring 2015.
Photo from Miriam Goldberger of Wildflower Farm
Wildflower Farm was started by Miriam and her husband, Paul, in 1988, as a dried flower business. Over the years, their interest in wildflowers grew and in 1997, Wildflower Farm expanded its focus and has since blossomed into becoming a leading native seed grower supplying hardy, native perennial seeds and site specific wildflower seed mixes to homeowners, landscape contractors, municipalities and corporations.
And finally, I would be remiss not to include a group of gardeners who have come together to support one of our own. Our dear friend Annie Haven is going through a rough patch with her business due to the terrible drought that California has been experiencing this past year. Gardeners from around the globe have gotten together to help raise a bit of cash to help her through this time. The fund is called Friends Helping Annie Haven.
The response has been amazing. We only need $315. to meet our goal. The deadline is tonight. Whether or not you know Annie, if the spirit so moves you, contribute.
A big shout out to Christina Salwitz for creating this video about Moo Poo tea with some of us gardeners who think that Annie’s product rocks! It’s worth taking a few minutes to check it out.
I want to close with saying that there are dozens and dozens of generous individuals in the gardening community. And there are more than a few that have been generous in donating to community projects that I have been involved in over the years. But these are the 5 + 1 group of gardeners that have left a particularly strong impression on me this past year.