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Growing a philanthropic garden

Many charitable opportunities are available through local garden programs, such as community and senior-center gardens.
Many charitable opportunities are available through local garden programs, such as community and senior-center gardens.

By Katie Jackson

Gift-giving season has arrived and, with it, the challenge of finding just the right gift for everyone on your list, especially those hard-to-buy-for folks. Thankfully, you can find a perfect gift—and plant seeds of goodwill and holiday spirit—by shopping for a worthy charity.

Contributing money, supplies and/or time to an important organization or cause is an easy and meaningful way to celebrate the season, and there are plenty of charities that provide you ways to spread gardening cheer.

For example, make your dollars “grow locally” by donating to (or volunteering at) an area community, school, after-school or senior-center garden. Other local nonprofits in need may include county Master Gardener, Junior Master Gardener, 4-H or garden club organizations as well as botanical gardens, parks, arboretums and food banks in your neighborhood or community.

Make a difference across the state by choosing a charitable organization that supports gardening, agriculture and sustainable food production throughout Alabama such as the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network, Agriculture in the Classroom, End Child Hunger in Alabama and many others.

If you want to have a national or an international impact, the options for garden-related charities are almost endless. Among the ones that are particularly garden oriented are the Garden Writers Association’s “Plant a Row for the Hungry” project, the Seed Savers Exchange and the American Community Garden Association. And there are organizations such as FarmAid, Local Harvest, Heifer International and many other food, farming and conservation organizations dedicated to helping take care of people, plants and our environment and natural resources across the globe.

In addition to direct donations, you can also give someone on your list a membership to a gardening organization that is near and dear to their hearts.  Or you can contribute toward or establish a scholarship fund that will help educate the next generation of gardeners or help pay for children or adults to attend garden and farm training sessions.

Of course you don’t have to limit yourself to garden-related organizations.  Just pick one that has special meaning to you or your gift recipient. If you need help choosing just the right philanthropy or want to make sure the one you pick spends your dollars wisely, do an online search for charities (I used the search term “how to find a worthy charity” and came up with several sites) or get help through your local public library, many of which have printed information on various charities or can help you with computer searches.

So go ahead, shop till you drop for a worthy charity that you want to support with your money and time. You’ll not only be able to feel good about your generosity, you’ll probably be able to use it for a tax deduction!

 

December Tips

Protect poinsettias from drafts and direct sunlight and keep the soil in their containers moist, but not too wet.

Living Christmas trees that you want to plant in the yard after the holidays should be kept well watered and away from fireplaces or heaters.

Plant fruit and nut trees, shrubs, roses, spring bulbs and grape vines.

Spot-treat weeds, such as dandelions and wild garlic, in the lawn.

Mulch roses and the rest of your garden.

Wash the dust off of leaves of houseplants.

Prune hardy deciduous and evergreen trees and summer-blooming shrubs.

Plant seeds for winter or cool-season vegetables.

Plant pansies or other cool-season annuals.

If the weather is dry, don’t forget to water lawns, shrubs and young trees.

Keep bird feeders and birdbaths full.

Begin planning for your 2014 garden.