By Carolynne Keenan, Contributing Writer
What started out as a way for Howard Young, Ph.D., to thin out his garden last fall turned into the NCI at Frederick Green Team’s Plant Swap. The group held its Fall Plant Swap on October 24, encouraging all members of the Fort Detrick community to pick up a free plant or swap a plant of theirs for another.
“Those who love to garden introduce others to the joy of gardening,” said Dolores Winterstein, a member of the Green Team and the coordinator of the Fall Plant Swap.
About 40 people participated in the Plant Swap, either by donating plants, exchanging theirs for others, or picking up free plants to help spruce up their yards.
“It’s easier to start when materials are free,” Winterstein said, adding, “It gives people a chance to consider growing plants.”
The Green Team, which promotes ways for the community to better the environment, hosted the free event. The team started the Plant Swap last fall and hosted one in the spring. The Plant Swaps are open to everyone at Fort Detrick.
Participants could bring in whichever plants they wanted to swap for different kinds—but bringing a plant to swap wasn’t a requirement. “You don’t need to bring a plant to take a plant,” Winterstein explained.
There were no restrictions on the number of plants donated. Plants not swapped had to be picked back up by the donor, but for this swap, no plants were left. “In fact, someone brought plants that barely touched the table before they were taken,” Winterstein said, adding that the October plant swap was “excellent.”
Any healthy plant was welcome to be swapped for another or donated, as long as the plants were not diseased and/or full of bugs. Winterstein advised plant donors to include instructions on proper care, such as how often to water and how much sunshine the plants might need.
The swap featured a variety of plants—everything from bulbs and house plants to trees and shrubs, plus perennials (such as irises).
The Plant Swap was a way to bring the Fort Detrick community together because anyone could participate. “Plants are beneficial to the environment, both indoors and outside,” Winterstein said.
Idea Sprouted from Garden Clean-up
Young, also a Green Team member, came up with the idea for the swap last year when he was preparing his own yard for fall. After thinning out several overgrown plants, he left a handful of bagged plants marked “free” on his sidewalk.
Two hours later the bags on his sidewalk were gone. “It was a good way for me to clear out excess plants,” Young explained. He brought the idea up at a Green Team meeting last fall, and the rest is history.
This won’t be the Green Team’s last Plant Swap. As long as interest is high for the event, “We will continue to hold them,” Winterstein said.
“We were happy to have employees from the Army and USDA participate,” Young said. “It is our hope that this will turn out to become a campus-wide event.” ?