The Garden Starters Kits have been sold for more than 10 years to support gardens in Flint and the surrounding area. These kits have evolved over the years and this year, there were three choices of kits for gardens. There was the Traditional Kit and the Kitchen Garden Kit. Each of these had 9 varieties of growing garden-ready plants and 17 varieties of seeds with the Kitchen Garden right-sized for smaller spaces with only 22 transplants! (think 3 raised beds or 5 big pots!)
This allowed gardeners the option of choosing the right size for their household. The third choice was a Pepper Pack Plus kit which included additional hot peppers and herbs often used in Latin American cooking. AND more than 4 tons of compost (more than 300 30 pound bags) were purchased by gardeners. AND fifty-two volunteers helped throughout the day to assemble kits, load compost, greet customers and more.
Six months of meetings planned the kit contents- including choosing seeds and plants to be grown for kits, organized and sorted seeds, and created a flow for Distribution Day. (14 people took a bag of seeds and created 350 small envelopes with enough seeds for a 15 – 20 foot row of produce) It’s boring work but part of the heart of gardens for about 300 households.
Two of our experienced gardeners know how many seeds needed to be ordered and teach a new batch of folks each year.
Edible Flint’s Garden Starters and LatinX planned together to add more choices for the Flint Area’s diverse community.
By January a decision was reached to prepare for 350 kits of diverse sizes with local nurseries, Walker’s, Wojo’s, and Hall’s beginning the work of growing nearly 10,000 transplants ready to be replanted to create 350 kits.
If you plant all of the traditional kit, you could have a 1,000 square foot garden filled with an vast array of vegetables and herbs!
DISTRIBUTION DAY looks like this:
6am-7am: Volunteers arrive to set up tents, sawhorses, and tables. The space needed to accommodate the more than 10,000 transplants that were sourced the greenhouses in the community. Hall’s brought peppers and herbs to start the multiple tables that resulted in 116 Pepper Packs PLUS.
7:00am-9:00 am: More plants are delivered and organized into sorting areas by type of plants. Tomatoes and peppers (69 flats of 48 plants each) arrived from Walker’s and were “marched” to their labeled tables. WOJO’s huge truck arrived with an additional array of 23 flats of all of the other vegetables.
9:00am-11:00am: The almost 450 kits are assembled. Preparation requires that the cell packs be cut to make the smaller kit and that a plant label is added to each four pack. Then volunteers move between each plant area adding the correct number of plants into the each kit. A beautiful dance…a dance with purpose.
The assembled kits are counted until the correct number are together. . .. The first 35 completed kits and pepper packs were on their way by 9:30 to the LatinX Technology and Community Center for kits to be picked up by their closest community members. There were three kinds of tomatoes, 6 kinds of peppers from sweet to hot, three kinds of herbs.…and eggplant and tomatillo and collards and watermelon and ….
11:00am-noon: Preparations are made for gardeners to pick up their kits …and volunteers are organized into groups for this warm work. Lists will need to be checked and traffic directed….and snacks grabbed by this herd of volunteers!
Noon – 6:00pm: Kits and compost are picked up by gardeners who are driving through the site. Some are paying for their kits with SNAP benefits – plants and seeds that create food are SNAP eligible.
That opportunity was made possible by a partnership with Flint Fresh. Volunteers are calling to remind people to pick up their kits. Gardeners were also invited to swap out plants and seeds they wouldn’t grow or pick up a few things that they would like to add at the swap table.
Kits were dropped off at the Edible Flint Educational Farm on Beach Street between Wellington and 12th Street for a swap event on May 22nd. The farm is also a place for people to learn and volunteer throughout the year.
THE VOLUNTEERS….our precious volunteers – 52 of our community’s best people made all of the difference on this day…and in the opportunity for gardeners to choose and give nutritious food to their families (and probably their neighbors!)