“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
― Desmond Tutu
GROWING KINDNESS, STEM BY STEM
During the World Wars, the answer to our country’s food shortages and low morale was the Victory Garden: small gardens grown in backyards and city lots that enabled any one person to feed their family and their community. They were a real, tangible way to contribute.
Now a days we don’t worry so much about food shortage, and while it’s certainly arguable that many people still don’t have access to enough healthy food, I’d argue that we have an even more critical shortage these days: connection. Real, meaningful connection.
Our world is moving faster than it ever has, with more ways for us to connect than ever before. We’ve all got hundreds of friends online and are a member of more online groups than we can count. And yet we’re more disconnected than we’ve ever been. Social media is falsely filling our need to know, relate and interact with communities, neighbors, friends and even family.
We believe the answer to our current deficit is still found in a backyard garden. What would happen if we each grew a few flowers, simply for the purpose of sharing with others? What if we literally grew connection in our communities by walking across the street or down to the local retirement center to hand a neighbor a bunch of flowers? Growing up, my dad always told us, “Little by little, we go far.” (He still reminds me of that when I’m faced with a daunting task.) What if stem by stem, we had the chance to make a difference in others’ lives? To grow kindness and connection? That’s exactly what we’ve set out to accomplish with the Growing Kindness Project.
How it started
It started with one bouquet. We called it a “lonely bouquet.” Every week, we’d strategically place a bunch of flowers somewhere in our community where we thought someone might be passing by who needed some cheer. Our boys would pick the location, and we often found ourselves at the doctor’s office, library, food bank, police or fire station and especially retirement homes. Then as our farm grew, our little project morphed. Instead of just one bouquet, we’d take a wagonful to the local long term care center. As we’d roll through the cafeteria with our squeaky wagon wheel and I watched our boys shake hands and share hugs, I realized that those bunches of blooms had become a catalyst for connection. I was hooked. Without a doubt, it truly is better to give than to receive. As I sat with this thought and considered just how basic and great or need for human connection is, I realized there was more that my family and our little farm could do.
The next spring, we shared our idea. What if others joined us in growing flowers for the purpose of creating meaningful connections? We opened our farm and gave away hundreds of dahlia tubers for others to grow and share in their communities. The response was overwhelming. We’d found a way to empower others to grow kindness in their backyards and gardens, stem by stem.
join the 2019 #growingkindness team!
This spring, we’re again giving away hundreds of tubers to help others share flowers in their communities. Only this year we’re taking it one step further. We truly believe that we’re better together. That’s why we’re reaching out and enlisting a team to share with us in growing kindness. We’re looking for friends across our state who want to plant seeds (or in this case, tubers) of kindness in their communities. We’ll be supporting our team with a free on-farm dahlia growing workshop, free tubers to start their cutting garden, and support throughout the season. Anyone can join the team; you don’t have to be an expert gardener or have acres of space. If you’ve got a backyard flower bed and a desire to connect in your community, you’re just who we need to join us! If you’re interested in joining the team, please drop us an email with the subject “Growing Kindness Team.” Tell us a little about where you are and why you’d love to join the team. We’ll gather our team together on April 27 for our first on-farm workshop. I can hardly wait to connect with YOU and watch the way flowers act as catalyst for kindness in your community!
Follow along with the Growing Kindness project using the hashtag #growingkindness on social media