The Free Garden Giveaway Project

“A garden,” wrote American novelist Wendell Berry, “… is a solution that leads to other solutions. It is a part of the limitless pattern of good health and good sense.” While the majority of the world focuses on high-tech ways to move forward into the future, it often forgets that the simplest things often generate some of the most lasting results. Thankfully, due in part to people like Random Acts supporter Barbara Benjamin Sliney, things are slowly changing, as a trend of organic farming and home gardens begins picking up steam.

In April this year, Barbara wrote to Random Acts asking for funding to complete a unique act of kindness for her community.

“Our original goal [was] to give away … complete perennial gardens so people could help feed themselves for a lifetime,” she explained. “With ‘diapered’ soil, [the gardens are capable of] increased drought tolerance and long term stability.” Random Acts was thrilled with the idea.

After receiving some $500 in funding, Barbara purchased a myriad of organic seeds for the gardens, including Miner’s lettuce, cardoon, chuffa (ground almond), artichoke, bunching onion, strawberry, kale, asparagus, strawberry spinach, ground cherry, borage (a butterfly and bee-friendly flowering plant sometimes used for medicinal purposes), and Austrian Winter pea. In a kind gesture, the heirloom seed company, Baker Creek, also donated 25 heirloom tomato seed packets to the order, free of charge.

The seed company wasn’t the only one to show some much-appreciated kindness either.

“[Hardware and gardening store] True Value also gave me a discount on the soil,” added Barbara, in her Final Act Report later. “I then received 36 plant donations from Onyx Family Farms and Five Dog Farms, plus a donation of 8 bottles of natural dish liquid for grey water use from Trader Joe’s.” With her items in tow (and some extra kind motivation as well), Barbara began assembling the items.

The day of her Free Garden Giveaway, Barbara reported later, she couldn’t seem to hand out the seed and soil fast enough.

“I think It went viral on Facebook,” she said. “People came up in cars, on bicycles, and on foot. Neighbors helped neighbors. One lady … had just moved from Los Angeles where she was in charge of a neighborhood garden. Since we don’t have one up here, she started one! Several people [from] a nearby food bank showed up after receiving flyers for it. It was amazing.”

By mid-afternoon, she explained, her supply had dwindled significantly, much to Barbara’s delight. And by the end of the day, she realized that her single project had spawned even more possibilities down the road.

“I am still getting calls and texts,” she joked. “I could easily give away 33 more!”

After a few neighbors inquired about the project’s roots, Barbara was able to pass along Random Acts’ information and encourage her fellow gardeners to follow her lead.

“Just imagine what we could all get done together,” she enthused.


Have your own idea for an inspiring act of kindness? Head over and fill out an act proposal form — we offer financial assistance to those who need it to complete their equally amazing projects.