We’re living in tough financial times. People worldwide have either lost their jobs, or have had to restructure their budgets to accommodate significant financial loss. Its no different in the nursery business. Wholesale and retail nurseries face the problem of how to maintain viability in what is generally considered a business dependent upon the non-essential. When it comes to scaling down personal budgets to food, shelter, transportation and clothing, purchasing plant material simply doesn’t factor into the equation.
If we section out the gardening community, the problem remains the same. Unfortunately the very activity that brings some relief from the belt tightening and austerity…is gardening! Even if we maintain the gardens we have, we cannot add to them, nor can we replace what we lose if we’re strapped for cash and are restricted to only the essentials for living. Therein lies the dilemma for both the industry and the individual hobbyist gardener. How can the industry maintain interest and viability, and how can gardeners either add to their collections, replace what they’ve lost or try growing something new?
The answer is “plant welfare.” Gardeners sharing with other gardeners on a mass scale. We’ve all shared our plants at some time or another, but sharing has greater significance now. While some of us discuss plants we’ve purchased and added to our gardens, others from our community are sitting on the sidelines watching. They’re making choices between food, shelter, clothes for the kids, transportation, medicine, insurance, the list goes on. They’re missing out on the thrill of opening that Priority Mail box, and the pleasure of anticipating a new plant friend. At The Plant Exchange, we know getting new plants is good medicine, that getting new plants keeps you involved in the community and looking forward to the awesome, good feelings new flowers elicit. Trying one’s hand at growing new kinds of plants or continuing a hybridizing program shouldn’t come to a halt, because a member of our community has met with disaster or is cash poor.
What’s It All About?
The concept of The Plants Exchange is simple: you offer a plant for free, you are paid the cost of postage, you ship the plant. Done deed. Membership is free. Ads are free. There is NO SELLING EVER! If you see a plant you want, you pay shipping and you get the plant. We have a “Wants List” as well. If you need a particular plant, you may post a free ad requesting that plant. The site has a searchable database as well. Type in your plant, and the site search feature lets you know whether the plant is listed. If it isn’t, add it to your wants list! We were going to start the site off with one kind of plant – Brugs, but the growing membership wanted more plants. So, we now have Amaryllis and Hibiscus listed along with a new “Food” category. Send a berry plant or a fig tree to a plant pal. Feed the world. Soon, Passiflora, Hosta and Daylily will be added. In time, we’ll add whatever the membership wants to add. Offerings and ads are divided into two categories, “Domestic” (within the United States) and “Foreign” (everywhere else). We want to take this concept world-wide!
I’m a business, and this concept will put me out of business!
Not really. We aren’t going to list every plant on the planet, nor is every cultivar within a plant family going to be listed. We are offering opportunities for people to find specific plants, but we’re also offering an opportunity for gardeners to try growing new kinds of plants without any financial risk. THAT is good for business in the long haul. We want to keep gardeners gardening, not allow them to give it up simply because they can’t afford plants. We know there are a lot of small nurseries and individual growers that form the backbone of the community. We need those businesses thriving with gardeners who are still actively interested in growing plants. With all of this in mind, when we reach 100 members, we’re going to invite as many online garden retailers as possible to contribute five free plants in return for a link from each free ad back to their sites. By participating in the program, those retailers achieve two important things: they show compassion and concern for the community they depend on for their livelihood, and they get the chance to be remembered for it via future purchases. Personally, I would rather buy from a retailer showing genuine concern for the community, than one without the vision to see the benefits of participation. Give me a plant today, and I will buy from you when I am able. You can’t buy that kind of retail insurance. It is heart to heart and will resonate. Patience and the determination to see this program through, will benefit everyone.
What Else Do You Have For Me?
We’re planning contests and awards of quality plants either from member donors or participating businesses. We’re researching other programs to benefit the community as a whole. The more members we encourage to join the program, the more offerings there will be. We’re hoping to have a full buffet of plants by spring of 2012.
OK. I’m Sold. How Do I Get Involved?
Go to – The Plants Exchange website: http://www.theplantsexchange.com and register. After registration you will be contacted and assigned a personal password. After that, have a ball. Post your offerings and wants lists, search the database. You can also visit our Facebook forum to offer suggestions, catch up on news or schmooze with your plant pals. You may also find us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PlantsExchange
We look forward to your participation. Whether you offer or receive plants, we’re glad you’re with us and continuing to garden against all odds.