Friday, April 15, 2011

Best $10 I've Never Spent

On one of the Facebook pages I'm on, the administrator recently asked "What would you do if you had $100 to spend, but you couldn't spend it on yourself, your family, or your friends?"  There were all sorts of responses about giving to various charities, to help out various causes, but my answer was a little bit different.  I answered that I would use that money to buy seeds and start a community garden in a low income area.  I was thinking that maybe that hypothetical community garden could be used as a launching point to teach local people to grow their own food and give them the tools and the power to never go hungry again.
My oldest son helping out at a community garden we were involved with last year
The next day, she asked a little different question.  She asked "If you had $10 to spend, but you couldn't spend it on yourself, your family, or your friends, what would you do with it?"  A lot of people made the comment along the lines of "well that isn't a lot of money" and their ideas got smaller, heading down the directions of giving it to some random individual, maybe a homeless person or a child.  My idea, on the other hand, got bigger!  I figured $10 isn't really enough to get a whole community garden started, but the seeds of self-sufficiency could still be planted in the heads of people that need it the most.  My idea:  "I'd buy seeds for high yield plants like zucchini or tomatoes or ground cherries, find donations of five gallon buckets from bakeries or such, get a municipality to donate compost to fill the buckets, and get the seeds started. Then, after the last frost, I'd load up all the plants and take them down to a food pantry and start passing out container gardens, 2-3 plants per family, so that they would have enough food to eat later in the summer that they might be able to skip a week or two at the food pantry and maybe even have some to share with neighbors!"

My idea isn't really particularly original.  I was actually a recipient of a similar program last year, in which I received a tomato plant and a pepper plant, both of which did quite well in their containers and is a large part of why I expanded my gardening efforts so much from my original two 4x4 boxes into a large variety of containers last year, but among the responses to the original poster's question it was unique in that it turned that little $10 into something much, much larger. 
The two plants in the foreground in the picture are the ones I received from the "Big Seed" program last year.  The ex-kitty litter buckets that they were lovingly decorated by elementary school students as part of the project.  I treasure the containers, even though the plants have lived out their lives and I will be using them again this year!
The thing that impressed me the most about my answer is that I came up with it before my morning shower.  I usually don't think so well before my morning shower and, once I had my shower, I actually came up with a few reasons why I couldn't do this myself at this point at time, because, really, $10 isn't that much.  Economically, it should be quite feasible, even for someone as chronically broke as me!  However, I really don't have the space in my tiny single wide trailer for all those seedlings.  Nor am I familiar enough with the surrounding community to procure the buckets, soil, or even know where there is a food bank around here that might be open to joining for such a project.  (It also occurred to me that perhaps ground cherries wouldn't be such a good addition to such a project, since you need at least two plants so they can cross-pollinate in order to get a decent crop and most people who'd be receiving these plants probably wouldn't be familiar with ground cherries and so they wouldn't realize what a treasure they were receiving, but, really, that's a mere quibble, which is why I stuck it in a major run-on sentence in parentheses.  I also later realized that I left out the part about drilling holes in the buckets so they would have good drainage.  Anyhoo...)  I realized, however, that this would be a fantastic service project for a group such as a church, scout troop, or school that wanted to make a real difference in their community without having to spend a lot of money to do it.  So, I decided to blog about it, hoping that someone would "steal" my idea and put it in action (and, yes, I will be sharing this with my church as well).  If anyone does, please leave a comment here telling us about it or share it on my Facebook page.  I'd love to hear if this seed of an idea germinates into some positive change for the world, one pot at a time!


  1. I love your idea! I most certainly have the space,but that's about it..

  2. Ooohh.I just had a thought,you could maybe contact the Webberville FFA,they have a greenhouse and sell plants in the spring to raise money for the FFA.It would be a good project idea for them.


    My sister started the One Tomato Project three years ago.

    Grow. Eat. Give.