Community Plant Sales & Swap Support Local Causes & Embedded Learning

Plants Sales Support Multidisciplinary Learning in Your Backyard

Plant sales and swaps happen all over western Massachusetts this time of year. From big to small events, many raising funds for valuable community resources, plant sales are an excellent opportunity for sourcing your plants (and gardening knowledge) locally. They are terrific community events for learning tips on plants and gardening from both home gardeners and experts in the field! Bring your family to a plant sale this weekend and unearth the embedded learning they hold for the entire family!


Tending to a family garden not only provides food for your family and adds beauty to your surroundings, but the process of growing and caring for plants brings with it ample opportunity to learn about everything from edible plants to soil science! Here in western Massachusetts, gardening season is just kicking into full swing – meaning it’s time to start planning and planting your family garden!

Before choosing envelopes of seeds and six-packs of seedlings, it’s important to create a plan for your garden. Without proper planning, plants might end up being overcrowded, poorly positioned, or not properly cared for. It might be most efficient to let garden planning be a task for adults, but involving children in the process can empower them with responsibility while offering multidisciplinary learning. Get kids thinking about annuals and perennials, and the benefits of permaculture and xeriscapes. Using tools such as Math in the Garden curriculum or naturalist Sharon Lovejoy’s book Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children, families can discover ways for children to practice math, science, sustainability and literacy concepts all by participating in planning the family garden.

Another title that would be great to have in your family garden library is Slugs, Bugs, and Salamanders: Discovering Animals in Your Garden. Putting into context the concept of the food chain, this book will use the family garden as a launch into learning about pests and their natural predators.

Once you know where you’ll be growing your garden and what types of plants you’d like to put in them, commit to locally sourcing your plants. This time of year our region is rich in plant sales and swaps, giving families many options for obtaining locally grown plants that have been dug up from the gardens and properties of other community members, local farms and community gardens.  Alongside, six-pack containers filled with potting soil and starter plants, you might also find more interesting things like cuttings from trees and bushes, potted house plants, wildflowers and grasses, medicinal and culinary herbs, hand-preserved (dried and harvested) seeds, and plants that aren’t usually grown straight from seeds – like asparagus roots and rhubarb crowns.

Many of these plant sales are also fundraisers that support valuable community resources like libraries, schools, and museums, and often times the community member whose garden the plant originates from is on hand to answer your questions and offer gardening tips. Even if you’re not gardening or your gardening space is very small, plant sales are a fun place to freely share gardening information with one another, supporting kids in their development of gardening skills.

[Photo credits: (cc) Lorenzoclick; (cc) ODA]


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