Green Team Readies for Spring with Plant Swap

Carolynne Keenan
Pink flower

By Carolynne Keenan, Contributing Writer

Those looking for a cost-effective way to spruce up their yards this spring can stop by the National Cancer Institute at Frederick Green Team’s booth during the Spring Research Festival (SRF) on May 7 and 8. Pick up a free plant, donate overgrown plants from your yard, or swap for a new plant.

Everyone is invited to participate in the swap, whether you have plants to donate or not.

This is the fourth Plant Swap that the Green Team has hosted in the past few years, usually in the fall and spring. Last spring, the Green Team hosted its Plant Swap at the SRF for the first time.

“It’s a fun, positive event,” said Dolores Winterstein, guest researcher, Laboratory of Molecular Immunoregulation, and a member of the Green Team.

The Green Team decided to host the swap twice a year since the event became so popular, Winterstein explained. “It is an easy way to decorate your house and garden with color for free.”

Howard Young, Ph.D., deputy laboratory chief, Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, and a member of the team, brought the idea up at a Green Team meeting in early fall 2012, after a weekend spent preparing his own yard for fall. He didn’t want to just compost several overgrown plants pulled from the yard, so he placed a handful of bagged plants marked “free” on his sidewalk. Within two hours, the sidewalk was empty—all the plants had new homes.

The Green Team’s Plant Swap continues that spirit of sharing plants, giving employees a chance to donate leftover, overgrown plants or pick up free plants to spruce up their yards.

“You don’t have to toss those extra plants you thin out to make room for others to grow,” said Melissa Porter, administrative manager, NCI Office of Scientific Operations, and chair of the Green Team. “This is a great way to recycle and repurpose plants that might otherwise have gone to waste.”Gloved hand holding a flower bulb

How to Donate Your Plants

If you are interested in donating plants, you can submit a request on the Green Team’s website,, or you can bring your plants to the SRF. When donating plants, you will be asked to fill out a form with your contact information, in case your plants are not swapped or picked up. Winterstein suggested that donors also include any special instructions to care for the plants.

The Green Team accepts any non-poisonous plants at the swap. Examples of plants swapped in the past included houseplants, trees, shrubs, bulbs, herbs, and perennials.

The team is not responsible for unclaimed plants—not that this has been a problem in the past.

“Each time we hold the Plant Swap, there has been a great response,” Porter said. “There have not been any plants unclaimed at the end of the day.”

For more information about the Plant Swap, contact Dolores Winterstein at 301-846-1347 or For general information about the Green Team, visit the team’s website,, or e-mail

Woman placing flower bulbs in a bag.If You Go

What: The Green Team’s spring Plant Swap

When: May 7 and 8

Where: At the Spring Research Festival, in the tent