Doing something instead of buying it feels special; changing the car’s oil yourself is a satisfying accomplishment, for example and the art project your child painted is better than anything Picasso could have done. With that in mind, Sacramento nonprofit My Plant is fostering joy, independence and good health by giving away thousands of free tomato plants to people to grow.
Greg Norrish, Garden Coordinator for Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, knows there are numerous benefits to growing the food that you eat. But Norrish frequently hears why people are hesitant to do so.
“They say they don’t have a green thumb, or they can’t invest the time and money without knowing if it will work”, says Norrish.
He sympathizes with those feelings, but knows that growing fruits and vegetables can be simple once people could get a pain-free introduction to the idea.
Norrish decided to make the introduction.
In his “spare time” between working full time and his classes at American River College, Norrish created My Plant last year. To accomplish his plan of “ guerrilla gardening”, he had to get down and dirty, quite literally.
In a back yard plot, Norrish grew 1,500 Sun Gold tomato seedlings in cups. With the help of some friends, the cups were left on the doorsteps of residents in four Sacramento neighborhoods.
In some areas, they literally dropped them on doorsteps at 5:00 am, and then drove by to see some of the people find the seedlings waiting by their morning newspaper. “That,” says Norrish “was really cool.”
Each cup included planting instructions and a link to the nonprofit group’s website at myplantproject.org. Recipients were encouraged to take and post photos of the tomato plants as they grew; two photos would be chosen at random each week to win a gift certificate from either Talini’s Nursery or East Sac Hardware.
Continuation students at American Legion High School are now growing the seedlings as a school project. They get to take some of the seedlings home to grow food for their families and the rest are used for distribution to the public through My Plant.
Sun Gold tomatoes are very sweet tasting and small, about the size of a cherry tomato. This spring My Plant volunteers have been distributing the seedlings all over the community, at events and at Talini’s and ESH.
More than 2,000 of the free plants will have been given out by the end of this distribution.
Anyone wishing to pick up a seedling can visit Talini’s on the weekend of May 25 – 26.
Starting this week, people who already have one of the free tomato plants can post photographs on My Plant’s Facebook page or can email them to Norrish at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each photo should feature the seedling and the My Plant sticker that came with it.
For the next ten weeks, two winners will be drawn weekly and will each receive one of the gift certificates from Talini’s or East Sac Hardware.