Author and gardener Toni Gattone shows off a basket of vegetables

Growing a Giving Garden

Growing a Giving Garden is an opportunity to give to yourself, your family, and your community.  Whether you’re new to gardening or you’ve been gardening for years, there’s never been a better time to embrace the idea of planting more food than you need to share with others in need.

These are extraordinary times we’re living through and we don’t know what the future holds. What we can do in this time of uncertainty is look for the places in our lives where we can make manageable and meaningful changes so that we have enough of what we need — while also considering how we can share and contribute to others. 

We know that giving to others is
good medicine for the soul.
What better way to give (and receive) than
growing a giving garden?

A year after launching my speaking career, I discovered an amazing group of like-minded and like-hearted people whose purpose in life is to share their love of gardening. I had come home. 

From that first convention in Pasadena in 2015, it didn’t take long to discover that becoming a member of GardenComm would not only be good for expanding my gardening knowledge, but also good for my growing business, and most importantly — good for my heart.

#GardenStrong graphic that provides support for growing extra produce in your garden to help the hungry

I’ve appreciated getting to know the many kind and down-to-earth people I’ve met over the past five years — some of the country’s best garden writers, speakers, bloggers, and photographers — I’ve also benefited from how they have supported me in growing my adaptive gardening speaking, writing, and coaching business.

Through my affiliation with GardenComm, I’ve been deeply impacted by their purpose of being generous.  It’s in that spirit, my idea for the ‘Growing a Giving Garden’ came to me and was inspired by a program GardenComm launched twenty five years ago, called Plant a Row for the Hungry.

As a public service program of GardenComm, members are asked to encourage their readers to plant an extra row of produce each year and donate their surplus to local food banks and soup kitchens to help feed people in their communities who are hungry.

Think about it: There are over 84 million households with a yard or garden in the U.S. If every gardener plants one extra row of herbs, vegetables, or salad greens and donates their surplus to local agencies and programs in need, we can collectively make a significant impact to reduce hunger.

I live in Marin County, CA, one of the wealthiest counties in the country, (trust me, that wasn’t the case when I moved here 40 years ago!) so I was blown away when a friend told me there were people in Mercedes and BMWs waiting in line at a local food bank to get food to feed their families. Yes indeed, these are extraordinary times — times that are calling for and requiring change.

Don't look back, you're not going that way sign

As Bob Dylan sang:

“Oh yes, for the times they are a-changin …”

If the idea of growing a giving garden is growing on you, here are a few ideas to explore:

  • Research and locate your local food bank and find out how your giving garden surplus can be of benefit to them.
  • If you belong to a community garden, consider inviting your gardener friends to join you in planting an extra row to support your local food bank.

Not growing a garden this year? The Plant a Row For The Hungry program is a non-profit organization that would very much appreciate receiving tax deductible gifts of any size. To make a tax-deductible gift by credit card, click here.

So, how about it friends?  How about joining me in making a difference in your own communities by growing a giving garden of your own?  If you plant a row to share, send me your giving garden pics and I’ll create a montage of our collective giving gardens — our very own demonstration of what Mahatma Gandhi said many years ago:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

After all … isn’t this what life is all about … being of service to others.

That sure is what I believe.

Toni Gattone

Toni Gattone

Adaptive Gardening Expert and Inspirational Change-Agent. Toni’s enthusiasm is contagious. She is passionate about empowering gardeners with practical, how-to information. While gardeners of all ages and abilities appreciate her work, she especially enjoys working with modern elders, boomers and seniors who are growing older and yet want to live bolder lives. Her posts are information rich, with helpful resources, that will keep you coming back for what’s new. Toni is a caring and compassionate gardening guide and cheerleader, and oh by the way, she’s very Italian.

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