No one has ever become poor by giving.
Anne Frank

As we pass the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 and move into 2021, it is even more important that kindness is a theme going forward in our society.

“If you can be anything in this world, be kind”.

I know, reading that can be a floaty, utopian idea. Sometimes being kind can be really hard. But it is definitely rewarding. Maybe not instant gratification but rewarded someday, somehow.

This past December I was working alone on holiday orders in my workshop. Due to scheduling and COVID restrictions my team wasn’t able to be on the farm with me. I spent the days working away on wreath and arrangement orders. I listened to a lot of podcasts—some flower related, some business, some comedy, and some true crime.

One podcast I listened to a lot was The Flower Podcast with Scott Shepherd. On his December 13, 2020 episode (#112), he interviewed Deanna Kitchen of Twig and Vine Farm. She has started the non-profit The Growing Kindness Project. I was inspired by the humble and genuine kindness that Deanna shares.

From the website: The Growing Kindness project started when Deanna, an aspiring flower farmer, accidentally planted more dahlia than she could market. Together with her family, she started delivering flowers throughout her community, sharing flowers at bus stops, doctors’ offices, and retirement homes. With every delivery Deanna discovered that when they held out flowers, they held out a powerful catalyst for sharing kindness and fostering connection.

After listening to the episode, I reached out to Deanna about growing the project into Canada. Originally the project was only in the U.S. There had been interest from New Zealand too. I was excited to talk to Deanna and find out how I could be part and what I could give.

Deanna Kitchen, Twig & Vine Farm, Founder: Growing Kindness Project

Dahlias are the mascot flower of the project, mostly because the “giving nature” of the tubers. You plant one tuber and when you dig them up you will have many more, enough to share and give away for others to enjoy. I knew that I had WAY more dahlia tubers than I needed and I don’t know why but I’m not excited to sell tubers. So I knew I had some to give. Because of the international shipping restrictions, Deanna isn’t able to send tubers across the border so I am helping with that by providing tubers for Canadians in the project.

The project definitely focuses on “starting where you are and giving what you can”. There is no expectation on the amount you give. There are three levels of participation. There are Ambassadors like me. Ambassadors do not need growing experience, just a real commitment to grow and give flowers. The Ambassadors receive growing instructions (if needed), part of the online community, to lead by sharing the message of the project and encourage others to give, Growing Kindness tags to put on arrangements and (in the U.S.) a set of tubers. Cultivators are team members who want to be involved and help the project, but not necessarily lead others. Gardeners are committed to growing and sharing flowers they have. There are Growing Kindness Gardeners all over the world.

During the past few weeks there have been webinar sessions led by Growing Kindness Contributors. There have been webinars presented by Sarah from Triple Wren Farm, Sarah and Tom from Grateful Gardeners, and other Growing Kindness Ambassador alumni.

The passion is evident in the Ambassador team. We have heard about wonderful sharing in the group about how they plan to give flowers this season, to long-term care homes, frontline workers, in schools, church communities, foster and adoptive families and so many more ideas. I am planning to set up a Growing Kindness plot on my farm. My farm team and I will choose places to share our flowers this summer. Hopefully the gathering restrictions will lessen for us and we will have sharing opportunities with people in my region that have signed up for the project.

There are many ways you can give back to your community and share the gift of Kindness. As flower farmers we may not always realize the power that is in our flowers! I challenge you to find a way to give. It doesn’t have to be something big and no one else has to know about it. You will get out of it just as much as the recipient. I’m reminded of the “Magic Penny” song I learned as a child: “Love is something if you give it away, you’ll end up having more”.

Janis Harris

Harris Flower Farm

Contact her at [email protected]