Little Free Garden Stands Are Growing Goodwill Around Phoenix | Phoenix New Times

Little Free Garden Stands Are Growing Goodwill Around Phoenix

The community initiative is catching on around town.
Little Free Gardens are sprouting around metro Phoenix.
Little Free Gardens are sprouting around metro Phoenix. Little Free Garden Stands

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Inspired by Little Free Libraries, Little Free Garden Stands are sprouting all around Arizona to offer seeds, plant cuttings, and food to the community.

It all started with Dephane Marcelle, who used to host seed exchanges at her home. “I’d leave the extra seeds out by my free library for the neighbors to take home,” says Marcelle.

Joined by their love of gardening, three other women joined her in giving away their extra plants after pruning their gardens. Once the group grew to six, they officially started the Little Free Garden Stands of Arizona in October 2020.

Since then, the number of stands has grown to 105 and members on their Facebook page to 11,000. Participants put seeds or cuttings inside Little Free Library boxes or in front of their homes.

Two administrators and a few moderators run the page. The group contains documents explaining the rules, providing a map of available stands, which can be found all around the Valley as well as outside it, in places like Coolidge, Superior, Show Low, and Tucson. It also lists items appropriate for the stands (ziplock bags, coin envelopes, fruits and herbs, seeds, gardening books, worm casting, etc), and describes how to set up an LFG, including finding a place for it, stocking it, and promoting it to the group and the community. A separate document even covers how to set up an LFG if you have an HOA. 

Members generally leave photos of the stands they have just visited or items they have dropped off.
Stands range from tables to colorful shelves. They include seeds, cuttings, herbs, pots, fertilizer, fresh eggs, baked goods, and gardening books. You drive to the stand of your choice, take an item, and leave something if you have it. Leaving is not a requirement.

“We just want to promote love and kindness and connect to our community and neighbors,” says Marcelle.

The Facebook group connects people, too. People express gratitude to each other and ask questions about plants they have picked up.

Although most members come from 23 cities in Arizona (Marcelle hopes Sedona and Flagstaff join soon), the group has attracted members from the United States and worldwide. Marcelle is now inviting other avid gardeners from other states and countries to start Little Free Gardens. So far, California and Texas have followed her model. Gardeners in New York, Oregon, Australia, and Africa have also expressed interest.

“We want this to be a worldwide thing,” says Marcelle. "But we need more people to lend a hand. Most people don't know about us. Once they find out, we would love for them to join. We want it to be a joy, not a job."

For more information on the stands or how to start your own, check out The Little Free Gardens of Arizona Facebook page.
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