‘Take a Plant, Leave a Plant Denton’ group creates community among plant lovers

Article Originally Published by Kelly Tran on North Texas Daily

A drive down a residential street might offer a variety of things to look at, like old furniture out on the curb or kids running a lemonade stand in their driveway. But as you drive down Casie Court, you can find a shelf filled with plants. Next to it is a sign encouraging community members to “Take a Plant, Leave a Plant.”

This plant shelf lives outside the home of Helen Sanderson. She first set up this shelf on Aug. 5 to allow people to safely bring home a new plant, enabling them to continue their hobby or begin their journey as a plant owner during the pandemic.

“Really, I just saw this opportunity to allow people to have a small joy in this challenging time,” Sanderson said. “I really miss going into the atmospheres where you get to pick a plant. So originally, that’s what my idea was. I also realized that it’s a really good opportunity for people that can’t afford plants, to allow anyone that wants to be a plant owner or enthusiast or just [wants to] learn about plants the opportunity to do so.”

Sanderson started the shelf with four plants. From there, the shelf began to fill as fellow plant-lovers started to bring their own plants to trade. With help from others, the shelf is kept well-stocked with a variety of plants, from pothos plants to vegetables and herbs.

“It’s a really unique community because people will add more plants than they take because they’re just so generous with their plants,” Sanderson said.

Aside from plants, tools such as pots and shovels can be found at the shelf to help get a plant collection started.

“On the top of the shelf, I have a bucket, which has a bunch of starter containers, but people will donate shovels or other random items that can be super beneficial when you’re starting out with plants,” Sanderson said.

Sanderson created a Facebook group called “Take a plant, leave a plant Denton,” where she posts updates on the shelf. Through this group, Denton plant-lovers are able to interact, sharing the plants they dropped off or picked up or seeking out plant advice.

Facebook group member Lindsey Gansky recently traded some basil plants for a non-variegated spider plant and said the Facebook page allows people to find community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s a good way to, obviously, social distance and form a community [of people] who are interested in the same thing,” Gansky said. “People on the Facebook page sometimes don’t even post about the stand, they’ll just post about something they saw in a store, or something like that, that other people might be interested in.”

The Facebook group is open to plant newcomers, Sanderson said. The page currently has over 880 members, many of whom are willing to offer up their knowledge.

“There’s a lot of really educated people on there about plants, and I see people ask questions all the time,” Sanderson said. “If you have specific questions about a plant that you took, usually the person that dropped it off or other people in the group will be able to help you learn about how to care for it properly.”

Through the Facebook group, the shelf has also fostered some new friendships. Sanderson said by trading plants with one another, some of the members have created bonds.

“I see lots of people that come to the stand and talk to lots of people,” Sanderson said. “I guess the closest new friendship I gained is actually someone down my street who’s a plant enthusiast. She actually brought me a plant because she saw the stand.”

After joining the Facebook group, members can find where the shelf is located and set out to trade plants, cuttings, seeds and other plant-related supplies.

“The name of the group kind of just describes it all,” Facebook group member Kaci Leigh said. “I’ve added two of my friends to it just by telling them, ‘If you have any plant clippings, you can go to the group and find the address and then just go.’ It explains itself, it’s really easy.”

Sanderson said anyone is able to come and experience the plant life. The community is open to individuals regardless of how many plants they have or their experience level.

“Everyone is welcome,” Sanderson said. “The stand is out almost every day, weather permitting. If there is bad weather, I bring it in and I’ll post it so that people know, but I would love for more people to join and be able to gain the small joy that is plants during this crazy time right now.”

Featured Image: Helen Sanderson poses next to the plant stand, with a sign that reads “Take a plant, leave a plant,” on Sept. 12, 2020. Image by John Anderson

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Source: North Texas Daily