Growing Confidence with GiGi’s Seed to Sale!

I love plants. Like really, really love them. I love planting and growing them; watering and weeding them. I love the variety of colors and textures they come in. I love that they feed our pollinators and birds. And yes, I definitely love eating them too!

But I didn’t always feel this way. Luckily, my older sister intervened years ago. You see, when I was in high school, she happened to work part time at a locally owned greenhouse while studying horticulture. After learning I was no longer enjoying my after-school job at a restaurant, she recommended I apply at the greenhouse. I honestly thought she had lost her mind. I didn’t know the first thing about plants. How could I work at a greenhouse?! Back then if you’d asked me then what a dracaena was, I probably would have guessed some type of prehistoric creature (not to mention murder the pronunciation of dra-SEEN-ah). Eventually, however, she convinced me to apply.

I got the job and quickly realized that it was a lot more fun to study plants in my down time than it was to sweep the greenhouse floors (again). I started by trying to memorize the common name, scientific name, and care instructions for every house plant, perennial and annual I came across. For example: crown of thorns – euphorbia milii – likes full sun – also likes water but will tolerate dry conditions. It became an obsession! And my love for plants began to blossom (pun intended).

A few months later came my big discovery. When customers walked through the front door with a question about plants, I could answer them!

You’re looking for dianthus? You’ll find those in row three of the east greenhouse.

Hmm… you want a perennial for the north side of your house? Let’s move away from these sun loving day lilies and find you something shade loving instead.

My entire life I’d gone to adults for answers and now I could answer the questions that adults were asking me! The process of learning about plants and being able to educate customers was a huge boost to my confidence and self-esteem!

What I couldn’t have known at the time was that being successful in an area that I had no textbook knowledge of or formal training in has kept me from closing doors I most certainly would have otherwise. Since that time, I’ve worked in fields ranging from education and land stewardship to economic development and banking. I literally have plants (and my sister) to thank for helping me embrace new career challenges, because with each career move, I’ve never let a lack of subject matter knowledge keep me from my next big thing.

What does this have to do with GiGi’s? The answer is a lot! That’s because every single program we offer is designed to help our participants build confidence. Whether they’re developing strength or knowledge, reinforcing skill sets or creating new ones, what we’re doing is building confidence through experiencing and celebrating successes big and small. Confidence is at the core of everything we do. This is so important because confidence is what prepares people to take on life’s challenges. When we’re confident, we more readily embrace opportunities, not shy away from them. And starting in 2023, I’m particularly excited to share that we’ll be launching a program using plants that will do just this for our participants!

The program is called Seed to Sale. Just as it sounds, Seed to Sale will give participants the opportunity to grow fruits and vegetable from seeds and take their produce to market. They’ll learn about what it takes for seeds to germinate, how to care for plants, and what is needed to get a product to market – the Weston Farmer’s Market of course! In addition to growing a group garden in the Playhouse backyard, everyone will be given a table top compost to use at home. We’ll even be journaling about our gardens and will take time each week to celebrate our successes and learn from our mistakes.

As you can see, Seed to Sale will offer an abundance of learning, physical activity, skill development, and (my favorite!) confidence building. The confidence building will come with seeing a tiny seed they planted grow into a lush plant that blooms and eventually bares fruit. It will come with harvesting vegetables that will feed them and others in our community. It will come with improved math skills as we figure out how to price our produce and actively sell it to community members. By embracing these challenges and experiencing success, our participants will be more confident. It is this confidence that we hope empowers participants to welcome all sorts of new challenges, including exploring new career-based opportunities.

While we’ve come a long way with creating Seed to Sale the last few months, we’ve still got some growing to do before we’re ready to launch. That’s where you could come into play. If you have a passion for plants, workforce development, or simply helping others grow, consider volunteering your time to help us make this program the ultimate confidence booster. Complete a volunteer application or give us a call to get the ball rolling.

Want to support Seed to Sale but are short on time? That’s okay. We’ve got other needs too, like building awareness. Share this blog with someone you think would benefit from volunteering with or participating in the program. There are also a few garden supplies in our Amazon wish list we could use.

Before wrapping up this blog, I’d like to thank several folks that have helped bring Seed to Sale to life. For starters, our Playhouse Manager, Erica. This program is her brainchild and she’s working hard to build out the curriculum. We’re also incredibly grateful for the Kraft Family Foundation. Thanks to their generous financial support we have half of the program’s start-up costs funded. We also have GiGi’s Playhouse (our national organization) to thank. They’ve supported our interest in developing a brand-new program and have approved it for implementation network-wide!  We’d be lying if we didn’t say we’re pretty darn proud of that. You might even say that this process is building our own confidence as an organization. 😊

Confidently Yours,
Dawn Follendorf

What you should know about Seed to Sale…

  1. Programming will start February 2023 with sessions meeting once a week. Day and time TBD.
  2. Seed to Sale topics include: Carton Landfills, Exploring Plant Dyes, State Flowers, Mindfulness in the Garden, Seed Paper, and More!
  3. Employment based topics include: Math, Money Basics & Management, Communications (eye contact, body posture, etc.), ABC’s of Customer Service, and More!
  4. There will be field trips!!!
  5. We need YOU to make this happen, if you want to be involved let us know!

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