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“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” 
― Desmond Tutu

 
 
 
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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.


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HOW IT STARTED

As long as we’ve been growing flowers, we’ve enjoyed gifting and sharing them.  But you could say the Growing Kindness project started with a problem. We were in our first season growing cut flowers for market and we had a problem: we’d invested in hundreds of dahlia plants and had way more flowers than we could sell.  So we started sharing them in our community, by the bouquet, bucketful and even wagon-full at times. We left them on bus station benches, doctor’s office counters and libraries. We visited long term care and retirement homes. No matter where or how we shared flowers the results were always the same: always smiles. And hugs, conversation and cheer.

We were hooked.  The more we grew and gave, the more we began to see that not only could we get flowers into the hands of those who needed them, we were in a unique position to empower others in our community to do the same. So last spring we opened our farm and gave away hundreds of dahlia tubers to kind-hearted, caring souls who wanted to join us in #growingkindness in our communities, one bloom, bunch or bouquet at a time.

The response was nothing short of inspiring. It was a ripple effect and inspired us to find ways to do more. This year, we’ve found even more ways to support and involve even more people, near and far, in growing and sharing flowers in their communities.


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OUR MISSION

Growing Kindness provides encouragement, information, and resources to individuals and organizations to assist them in successfully and joyfully growing and sharing flowers in their community.

WHO CAN JOIN?

All it takes is a little dirt and a big heart to make a difference.  Whether you’re an apartment dweller with a single flower pot, a scout troop with an empty lot or a flower farmer with surplus blooms, we’re here to support and guide anyone who would like to make a difference through flowers in their community.

We’d love nothing more than to link arms with YOU and help this project spread to your community! Can you just imagine how many lives we could touch when we each step out bravely in kindness?  


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WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

*Cheer us on!
Share in the beauty of the story!  We’d love for you to follow along with this project as it grows and spreads across the world.  To read more about how we’re sharing flowers and helping others do the same, follow along with the hashtag #growingkindness.

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*Join the Growing Kindness Team!
Are you ready to start growing kindness in your neighborhood or community? We know you’ve got what it takes to make a tremendous difference and would be honored if to have you join arms with us!  As a member of the team, you’re task is simply to grow some flowers (a lot or a little) and share them with those in your neighborhood or community that could use some extra care or cheer. If you’re inspired, you can help the story and project grow  by sharing how you’re using flowers to grow kindness in your community. Just share a photo on social media and use the hashtag, #growingkindness.

Remember, if you’ve got a little bit of dirt and a big heart, you’ve got what it takes to join the team.  We’ll help you figure out the rest; we’re ready to share all the information, advice and encouragement you need to get you going and keep you inspired!  As a member of the team, you’ll receive a free downloadable Growing Guide, walking you through the ins and and outs of growing a cut flower garden. The guide also includes helpful information about harvesting and arranging flowers as well as insight and advice to get you started with sharing flowers in your community.  We love giving generously AND pretty little things, which is why we’re also sharing some extra fun downloads too!

We’ll be cheering for you and keeping you informed and inspired with a monthly newsletter that’s filled with helpful gardening advice, floral design techniques, Team Member highlights and more.

Are you ready to put some seeds in the ground and grow kindness in YOUR community?  

* Become a Growing Kindness Ambassador

We strongly believe in the ripple effect of kindness and generosity.  That’s why we created the Growing Kindness Ambassador Team. We wanted to be able to provide extra support and resources for a small group of individuals who were ready to commit to not only sharing flowers in their communities, but also helping the Growing Kindness Project grow.  We really, truly believe in the power of connection and collaboration which is why we hosted an on-farm Growing Kindness Workshop for the team, networking our small but mighty group and guiding them through the basics on growing cut flowers. We also provide our Ambassador team with free dahlia tubers, plant starts and other important growing materials and supplies to help have strongest start possible.  By keeping the Ambassador team small, we’re able to sustain the highest level of support to these individuals, helping them in turn, promote and grow the project in their communities. We’re so grateful to our 2019 Ambassador Team for their commitment to this project! Interested in becoming an Ambassador in 2020? We’ll be accepting applications in January 2020, so be sure to sign up for our mailing list.



FAQs — GROWING DAHLIAS

What’s an eye?  

The eye is where the sprout begins to form.  Think potatoes here. Unlike potatoes, dahlias only form eyes at the top “neck” of the tuber (where it attaches to the plant it grew from.).   Eyes can be tiny when the plant is still dormant and tend to bulge as the sprout forms. Even then, they can be hard to spot!


When should I water my dahlias?

Wait to water dahlias until the first sprouts have emerged.  Dahlia tubers do not need water to sprout and too much water early on can rot the tubers.


My tubers sprouted in the bag before I planted them!  What should I do?

Are your tubers stored in a cool spot?  If not, move them somewhere above freezing, but ideally below 40*.  This keeps them from growing too soon. If they’re already cool, it’s likely they’re just getting close to being ready to be planted.  This is common later in spring. They’re just eager to get growing. If danger of frost has passed, go ahead and get them in the ground.  If the sprout gets really long (more than 4 or 5”, go ahead a break it off about 2” above the tuber before you plant. If you’re tubers are sprouting and you’re still a long way off from having good planting conditions (or your soil ready) you can pot them up in a flower pot to get them started.  Just use quality potting soil, keep the soil slightly damp (not wet!) and placed in a warm, sunny location. Then just transplant when soil conditions are right.


I planted my tubers two weeks ago and they still haven’t sprouted!  Should I dig them up and see if they’re growing?

You know the saying: don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.  But for real; just let them be. I promise they’re busy growing underground! It can take up to 5 WEEKS for tubers to sprout.  It can depend on the variety, the soil temperature, the depth you planted and lots more. Just keep waiting patiently!


I think I planted my dahlia upside down!  Will it still grow?

While it’s best to plant your tubers laying on their side with the eye facing up, they want to grow and that will sprout will eventually find its way to the surface, it just might take a little longer.   


Do my dahlias need fertilizer?

Dahlias are similar to tomatoes in their nutritional needs.  (Read: they like to eat!) We recommend amending your soil with compost before planting and adding a small handful of bone meal in the bottom of the hole when you plant.  No worries if you didn’t! You can also fertilize by top dressing with bone meal or spraying the foliage with diluted fish emulsion. Both products are available at a garden store and include directions for dosing on the package.


How will I know when to dig up my tubers?

It’s best to wait at least a week after a killing frost. Your last frost date (found by googling your zip code plus “last frost date”) is a helpful indicator of when this usually happens in your area.  A killing frost means a frost that is cold enough to kill the foliage of the plant. It will cause the plants foliage to darken, wither and die.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT GROWING KINDNESS


Do I have to be able to grow a garden to participate?

Definitely not!  This project is about the joy of giving and sharing kindness through flowers.  While having your own garden (even a small pot of Cosmos on your balcony) makes it easier and more accessible to share flowers, you certainly can still give flowers without growing them.  We’d highly recommend connecting with a flower farmer in your area: it’s a win, win, win! You support a farmer, you bring someone joy, and you reap joy in giving.


What if I’ve never grown flowers before?

No worries!!  We promise growing flowers is easier than you’d think AND we’re here to help you all along the way.  Team members will find all the basics and lots of tips and tricks in our free downloadable Growing Guide and tips, tricks and advice in our newsletter.  


What if I can’t commit to giving flowers regularly?

Remember, even one bloom makes a difference!  Some Growing Kindness Team members share flowers weekly, others less often.  What matters is that every act of kindness counts.


What is the difference between a Growing Kindness Ambassador and a Growing Kindness Team Member?

Both are committed to sharing flowers in their community.  Both receive downloadable guides, printables and newsletters with support and encouragement for growing, arranging and sharing flowers.  Ambassadors have a higher level of commitment to growing the project in their community and are supported with free dahlia tubers and plant starts and additional learning and support opportunities.  All together, we make up the Growing Kindness Project, each of us doing our part in our little corner of the world.


How can I become an Ambassador?

Because we want to be able to provide the Ambassadors with an extra level of support and generous supplies to start their gardens, we choose to keep the Ambassador team small.  Our 2019 team is in place, but we’ll be accepting applications for Ambassadors in January and will share all the details via our newsletter and instagram leading up to that date!  Stay tuned!


I noticed a lot of people share pictures of the flowers they shared or who they gave them to.  Do I have to share pictures to be a part of this project?

If you’re inspired to share a picture, we’d love to see it so we can cheer you on!  (Just use the hashtag #growingkindness or tag @twigandvine). We’ve found there’s such a ripple effect that occurs when we share this story; you never know who you will inspire to follow you in sharing flowers.  That said, it shouldn’t ever feel cumbersome or artificial. You’ll know if or when it feels right to share the story and when it’s not.


Can I share this project with my friends?

We would LOVE for you to share about what you’re participation in this project!  And if you’re inspired to invite your friends to join us, that would be amazing!  We just ask that the materials you receive as downloadables are used by you alone. They shouldn’t be reprinted or distributed to anyone without written permission from Twig & Vine. Everyone is welcome to the resources. We want to stay personally connected to those who want to participate in the project, so we just ask that they sign up for the materials using our form linked here & we will happily send their own copies.