Growing a community: Plant exchange at Echo

For those who are feeling spring fever, a free plant trimmings exchange is taking place at ECHO every weekend in March.

Linda Scharf helped organize the exchange, which was inspired in part by the community she’s helped build through the Onset Nature and Gardens Facebook group.

Scharf began gardening when she moved to Onset — her first home with space to garden.

“It’s a small space, but I’ve packed a lot in there,” Scharf said.

That garden, she said, has connected her with neighbors and community members as they chat outside and trade plants. It’s also given her a way to help the non-human creatures in the community: birds, insects and squirrels, to name a few.

“Even with just a small yard, we can do so much to help the birds come back,” Scharf said.

Gardens provide places for wildlife to take shelter and provide nourishment, she said. Scharf emphasized the importance of species that are native to the area, which are best-suited to support area wildlife.

When considering what to plant, she said she considers “what’s going to be good for me and for the creatures I could support.”

She said that she’s let the design of her garden be led by her interest in various shapes and colors, and described it as an artist’s or kid’s garden. Rather than a strict design, it’s led by play.

“It’s just for my benefit — and every insect and squirrel,” Scharf said.

Scharf said one of her goals for her garden is to have different plants that look beautiful in each season, which she said is called succession gardening.

Plant sharing is a way to build community with other people, Scharf said.

“It’s a generous instinct,” Scharf said. “Food and gardening: They’re things you can get happy about sharing and talking about.”

She said sharing plants is also a way to maintain connections, noting that plants shared can outlive those who gave them away.

Her best, most fervent advice to those interested in gardening is to plant bulbs for flowers like daffodils in the fall — and plenty of them, as squirrels and other critters tend to eat some, she said.

“You will be so happy in spring,” she said. “Just do it.”

For those interested in gardening that supports local wildlife, Scharf recommends the book ‘Bringing Nature Home’ by Doug Tallamy.

The plant exchange is located in the back workshop at Echo, 5 Elm St., which is open from noon to 7 on Thursdays and from 10 am to 4 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Bring some trimmings and sprouts or take some home.

The exchange will continue through the end of March.


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