Monday, March 19, 2018

A Young Gardener Just Thrilled The Hell Out Of Me

Keynote speaker Ian McKenna wowed and
inspired us at the Gardener's Supply Company
annual meeting last month.
Last month, my employer, Gardener's Supply Company in Burlington, Vermont, held its annual meeting.

We're an employee-owned company. Everybody who works there, including me, has a stake in it. So the annual meeting is a great chance to look over our financials, see where we've been, learn where we're headed.  

Each annual meeting features a keynote speaker, almost always somebody from outside the company who gives us inspiration and information meant to propel us forward and keep doing what we're doing.  

This year's keynoter was, of all people, a 13-year-old kid named Ian McKenna from Austin, Texas. He was easily - by far- the best keynote speaker we've ever had at Gardener's Supply.

Some background: Gardener's Supply is big on giving back to the community. That's one of the reasons why I work there.

I know the following is a shameless plug, but bear with me. It's good. This year, we're promoting something called Garden To Give. We're inviting our customers - anyone from newbies to hard-core gardeners  -  to agree to give away some of their summer produce to food shelves and people who just need food. Many of us Gardener's Supply employees are taking the pledge, too.

So, back to our 13-year-old kid. His altruism started in 2012 when his younger sister, then in first grade, was in school talking about Christmas traditions around the world, but one girl in the class burst into tears.

The girl said, "Santa's never come to us, he hates us because we're poor."


When Ian heard that story, he and his family decided to show up on Christmas morning at the girl's house with a carload of toys and food.

That had such an effect that a few months later Ian found out a student at school only ate breakfast and lunch provided at school with no dinners because the family was too poor, he knew he had to act again.

So he started a garden at Oak Hill Elementary school, and that people who were hungry could come there and collect fresh produce. He also opened a garden at another school, and in the first year grew 750 pounds of vegetables.  The next year, it was over 1,000 pounds of food.

I'm as guilty as anyone in my garden. Sometimes I surprise myself with more produce than I can handle. I give some away, or live on a diet of, say, string beans for a week to get through the harvest. Or, sadly, some food gets thrown away.

I'm not sure I will grow a giving garden exactly like the one highlighted on the Gardener's Supply how-to website. (I'm not the biggest fan of kale)

But surely I can give something - produce, time, volunteer work, money.

If Ian can do that much good, maybe I could at least do a fraction of it. If Ian as a teenager pulled off this much good stuff, we can all do a little, right?

Here's a video from Laura, from her YouTube channel, Garden Answer, with more on Garden to Give:

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