Story of a Seedling Sale: Help Us Complete the Garden Book Project!

IMG_5224We’re hosting our first fundraiser! A small seedling sale featuring butterfly and bee attracting heirloom plants.

So why a seed sale?

We love nothing more than a good, overly-detailed backstory, so here’s all the info on the whys, hows, and who cares-es of the seed sale. 

Why: Our current focus at the McElroy House Organization is the completion of the Garden Book Project, a community-based media project exploring the stories of several Yell and Pope county growers. The goal of the book is not only to document these stories, but also to help support larger community conversations and organize around issues of local food security and small-scale growing.  The book features the photography of Saira Khan and the research of Marie Williams. You can read all about the project and see some of the work that’s already been done here. 

From the beginning this project has been totally volunteer-based. Almost all of the work has been done without any money ever changing hands. We’ve engaged in various forms of creative partnerships and received the kind support of lots of sweat equity, as they say in the non-profit world (if you want to know more about this we’re happy to tell you. Transparency is a big deal to us, so ask away!) But to complete the Garden Book we have to pay for the printing costs and also need to offset travel costs for volunteers doing research and photos. A few months ago we applied for and received a 500.00 Giving Tree Grant from the Pope County Community Foundation to support out work!  This was a big first step and our first grant application. We’re super excited and so thankful for the support of the Arkansas Community Foundation! 

But that won’t quite cover the costs of printing. So we started looking around for ways to raise money that would be inline with our mission.

IMG_0572What and How:

All of the seeds are heirloom varieties and come from either Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, Seed Savers Exchange, or are 2nd generation seeds from our gardens. They’ve been grown in these easy-to-make recyclable containers that can be placed directly in the ground. Several volunteers came to help us make the containers, as you can see from these photos.

To make your own, just take an old bottle, wrap newspaper around the bottle, fold at the bottom and tape. Easy and free and a great way to use old newspapers. Thanks so much to Rachel Luster for showing us this neat trick.

Once we finished we had this big pile of containers. and we;ve  filled up many baskets since.

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We used a mixture of Arkansas-based products for the soil, including Hapi-Grow potting soil from Hope, Arkansas and compost and Supersoil from American Composting, a Little Rock based company specializing in organic recycling. Thanks to a gift from the Pope County Master Gardeners we were able to purchase much of the soil for no cost! (Thanks Master Gardeners!!)

Then we set up a little make-shift temporary grow spot for the baby seeds made from donated scrap lumber. Volunteers came over to help us fill up the containers and add the seedlings. Elsie, the trusty guard dog, supervised our work.

We wanted to focus solely on flowers that are easy to grow in gardens, even for beginning growers. We also wanted to plant varieties known to attack butterflies and bees to the garden, which help with community pollination. And besides, butterfly flowers are beautiful. A good flower garden, we’re quite certain, is an important part of a vibrant community.  All these flowers are easy to care for and can be grown in pots or garden beds.

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Elsie makes sure we’re doing it right.

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Hollyhock, dill, cactus zinnias.

Although our work for this project is based in Yell and Pope Counties, much of our work explores the connections and possibilities between urban-rural dialog and intergenerational life throughout central Arkansas. So we’re planning on two plant sales, one in Little Rock in June and one in the Yell County area around the 4th (Stay tuned for that).

Where and When:

The Little Rock event will be held June 16th in front of the Green Corner Store, thanks to the generous support of store owner Shelly Green.  The sale will begin around 10:00 and will coincide with the Sunday Bernice Gardens Farmers Market right up the street. We’ll be there with our plants and some information about our work. We hope to see you there! Please spread the word!

One of the varieties of zinnias we'll be selling.

One of the varieties of zinnias we’ll be selling.

Who Cares?: One of our core goals at the McElroy House organization is to keep everything as simple as possible, as grassroots as possible, and make sure our work is based on listening to the larger community(ies). This seed sale will allow us not only to provide people with something they may find useful and/or beautiful, but will also allow us to raise money for the printing costs in a way that directly relates to the mission of the project itself. It will also give us a chance to talk growing with more people and find even more ways we can help in the community. We’re big believers in partnering with others, and we can’t wait to see what we learn from folks who show up to the seedling sale.

Gardening is often seen as a solitary activity. And in many ways it is. It provides solace, meditation and/or prayer time, and a space to exist in silence. It’s a reminder of the cycles of life, the uncertainty or beauty and growth. Yet growing food and flowers is also about existing in a larger community. It provides food we can share with one another. For many people, flowers help us connect to lost loved ones.  Gardening is both deeply personal and communal, and it’s a small, but very real, way to address issues of food access and poverty.

Our goal with the Garden Book Project is to have a discussion about all these aspects of growing, especially as they relate to the history, present and future of life in the Yell and Pope County communities. We plan to use the book as  jumping off place for ways to get us all working together for a stronger future. What better way to raise the needed funds than by sharing flowers, right?

So that’s the story behind the seed sale. We’re a totally volunteer-run group, and we’d love to have you join us. You can contact the director at Meredithmartin_moats@yahoo.com. If you’re interested in donating to our work, either in sweat equity or via financial donation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll put your donation to good use.

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One Comment on “Story of a Seedling Sale: Help Us Complete the Garden Book Project!”

  1. […] Story of a Seedling Sale: Help Us Complete the Garden Book Project! → […]


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