Day 6: Random Acts of “Garden” Kindness

Day 6: Life is a Gift

I have never mentioned this on my blog before, but recently I had a very serious health issue and by that I mean it was a life or death situation. Obviously I came out okay. I’m not going to go into detail here, except to say that the entire experience changed how I look at life. Now a year and a half later, I am healthy and fine…but I am still changed…in a good way!

I really truly understand what a gift this life is. We are all lucky to be here because anything can happen in a blink of an eye.

So last year, with my new outlook on life, I started celebrating my birthday a little differently. I had read about a woman named Robyn Bomar* who used her birthday to do random acts of kindness for others with her family…all day. It was very touching. So, I quietly did the same thing with my family.

The idea is that you just do something nice for someone without expecting a thank you or credit. And those acts tend to have a ripple effect. Those who are on the receiving end, tend to pass it on through another act…and so on…and so on.

A few weeks ago, it was my birthday again and my husband, two boys and I spent another day doing random acts. It was just as meaningful as the year before. And here’s the thing…we actually do many of these things throughout the year, but doing them all in one day makes the significance of giving more clear. And you know what? I have since noticed that we tend to do a lot more of those “random acts” all the time now – not just on birthdays.

It’s kinda cool.

So, what types of things did we do?

Well, since my birthday is in the middle of winter, we did mostly non-garden related acts…

With my husband Rick as we increased “snow fun” by sharing sleds with kids that didn’t have any.

  • We brought cool snow sleds and shared them in the snow all morning with little kids we didn’t know while we played as well.
  • We put coins in expired parking meters.
  • We put shopping carts away in the store parking lot.
  • While in a restaurant eating, we noticed how a waitress graciously dealt with a very difficult group at another table. She was then left with a huge mess when they left. But she didn’t complain. We left her a note and a huge tip saying that we appreciated her patience.
  • We paid the bill of a young mother behind us in the Starbucks drive through line. As we drove away, we caught a glimpse of her smile as the girl at the window told her that her order was paid for.
  • We thanked policemen, firemen, soldiers and anyone giving service with a handshake and a smile.
  • We left coins in places where people would find them and have a “lucky” day.
  • We cleaned out closets and made donations.
  • We gave a grocery store gift card to a needy family.
  • Stuff like that.

All of this got me to thinking how we can do random acts that are “garden” related all year long! As gardeners (and homesteaders), we are in the perfect position to share food, flowers, a helping hand and a smile. I know many of you do this already without giving it a thought. Gardeners tend to be a giving bunch.

So with today’s post, I just wanted to “plant” the idea of giving back in a garden-y way all year long.

Here are some ideas to get you started…

Share a bit of your garden with others:

  • As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, you can share your backyard harvest with someone less fortunate. Use to find a food pantry location near you.
  • Leave fruit or cut flowers from your garden on someone’s doorstep.
  • Bring flowers to the fire station or police station – if not from your garden, then from the farmer’s market.
  • Give a jar of homemade jam, jelly or pickles to someone who doesn’t have a garden of their own.
  • Collect all your old seed packets and donate them to a local school. Teachers never have funds to buy seeds on their own.

Share some of yourself:

  • Offer to do a little yard work (mow, rake or sweep) for someone who needs the help such as an elderly neighbor or someone who was recently sick or injured.
  • Shake the hand of your local farmer at the farmer’s market and thank them.
  • Teach someone how to grow something simple – like a pot of herbs or strawberries.
  • Offer to teach a classroom of students how to plant a seed in a cup. They can take that cup home and nurture it. You might just turn a kid on to gardening.
  • Secretly plant seeds or bulbs in a public space and watch as they mysteriously sprout weeks later.
  • Volunteer time at the local food pantry, community garden or community center.

As you can see, there is no limit to what we can do to make someone smile and those smiles are contageious! If you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comments below!

*NOTE: At the time of this post, part of Robin Bomar’s website (the woman who started the Birthday Project) was down. Robin is hoping to have it fixed soon, but I went ahead and posted even though you couldn’t read all of her story on her site. I will change her links in this post when all is fixed.


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About the Author

Theresa Loe is the Co-Executive TV Producer and the On-Air Canning/Homesteading Expert for the national PBS gardening TV series, Growing A Greener World. She is a lifetime canner and a graduate of the Master Food Preserver Program. She studied both sustainable horticulture and professional culinary arts and she is a wrangler of chickens and two teenage children. (Not necessarily in that order.)

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