Chat with local gardener, plant sale organizer


The 4th Annual Plant Sale to Benefit the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center Food Shelf wil be held on Saturday, June 3, 2023, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1138 Churchill St. Veggies, annuals and perennial seedlings are grown by host Alison Goetzman, and other local gardeners. Plants and seeds are pay-what-you-can, and no one will be turned away. All proceeds will be donated to the food shelf at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center with a goal to reach $1,000 in donations.
Follow the event on Facebook to find out what plants will be in stock. 

Why did you decide to support this food shelf?
Alison Goetzman: In 2020, when I started this plant sale, I chose a food shelf as a beneficiary due to the innate connection of growing food and eating it. At the sale, people can select plants to grow food in their garden while the money they give supports local food security. I chose the food shelf at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center specifically because they offer a client-choice model and I want to support that. This was personally significant to me because when I was a kid, I grew up in a food insecure household. I grew up on food stamps and government cheese, and going to food shelves where there were no choices, you got what you did. Client-choice models did not exist when I was a kid. I believe that from a cultural and dietary standpoint, being able to choose gives dignity to the community, and means less food is gone to waste when families can enjoy what they bring home.

How much have you raised at past sales?
Previous sales have always wildly surpassed my expectations. Past sales raise between $800-$1,300. What I think is impressive is that most of the donations are small sums. The plants and seeds are pay-what-you-can, so it can be a great way to fill a small garden bed or a few pots on a deck and every penny given goes straight to Hallie Q. Brown. The sale itself has become a passion project. I grow most of the seedlings myself, taking over my basement and deck for a few months as well as winter sowing the native plants and perennials. Winter sowing is a process of starting seeds outside in the cold of winter in plastic containers that act like mini-greenhouses. I’ve also been fortunate to receive in-kind donations of plants and seeds for the sale from generous gardeners and local businesses like Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply and Highland Nursery, as well as the organization West Side Seed Library. Last year, we had a surprise donation the day of the sale of a few cases of lily bulbs from a local gardener! It really is a volunteer and community supported event.

What are some popular plants at the sale?
The herbs and native plants are always very popular, and I’ve been trying to grow more of those for the plant sale. But overall, people love to grow whatever they can! It is a powerful feeling growing your own food! Most people who come live in the city and have small gardens in their backyard – or no backyard at all! So, they are looking for veggie plants that can easily grow in containers and small spaces.

What tips do you have for new gardeners?
Three things: start small, grow what you know you like to eat and give yourself grace if things don’t work out!
There is a learning curve growing food, so I always recommend taking baby steps working towards the dream garden. Each year, you’ll discover new plants, new growing techniques and perhaps enlarge your garden space bit by bit. Along the way, you’ll find out how much garden you can manage. It’s one thing to prepare a garden and sow the seeds, and an entirely different beast growing the plants over the few months we have and then harvesting. As gardeners, we do it all! Once you harvest, it’s important that you’ll actually eat what you’ll grow, too! Growing new foods can be fun though, to learn about new flavors and new dishes. In the end, there will be gardening successes and there will be gardening failures, and I believe it’s important to give yourself grace when gardening gets frustrating. Gardeners are also very supportive, so reaching out to other gardeners can help put the ups and downs in perspective.


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