Through the Plant Exchange event, participants learn to identify plants in their garden and understand what to grow and how. They are also able to share their plants, adopting the ethos that it is all about sharing, reusing, recycling and organic living. They are able to drop off their plants and/or pick up free plants at the event and it is a great day for community building. The idea is that it is both free and fun!
The Plant Exchange is a free community event for gardeners, landscapers, urban farmers, outdoor enthusiasts and all interested participants. People share plants of all types and sizes. Enthusiasts of gardening tend to grow several plants, sometimes having an excessive amount. As opposed to pruning and disposing of these additional plants, they would prefer to share and recycle them.
Exchange dates are usually announced about six weeks before the event and happen either in Spring and Autumn. The event takes place outdoors and can be near the city gardens (where people have their own small gardens) or can take place in a large car park or city park. If you are able to collaborate with a Garden Centre, an event could be held there.
The main objective of this event is:
- To help the local community recognise indigenous, economic plants and protect them. Many plants may be or are at the risk of becoming rare in some areas, these plants can be protected and propagated in private gardens.
Other objectives include:
- To get people interested in gardening and growing some of their own food, such as fruit and vegetables. Some people living in cities often do not recognise plants and seeing how vegetables grow is both illuminating and useful, especially for children.
- To encourage green practices and make cities greener. Communities can aid build greener neighborhoods and also get to know each other in the process.
General Structure: Single Event
The main event starts by selecting the venue. The set-up of the event includes tables or other means of displaying plants, as well as cardboard boxes, paper bags, or even wheelbarrows to store plants. A supply of water would also be useful, and basic tools to clean up afterwards, such as dustpan and brushes.
It’s a good idea to ask people to label their plants beforehand and to be ready to introduce them. One can also just donate plants if he or she has too many in their own garden. Individual stalls should be organised and set up by the participants, with the plants they wish to exchange or donate to others. Stall owners can also leave their table or storage place for a while to walk around the venue and see what other people are offering. Catering is also provided.
Main Event Duration: Full day
Project Duration: Several weeks
2.1 Staff & Volunteers
Normally there should be a group of active citizens acting as a core team, who organize the whole event and recruit other volunteers. Volunteers are recruited on Facebook and other social media platforms, such as gardening discussion groups. In the weeks before the plant exchange there are a variety of tasks to complete, which can mostly be done by the volunteers. For example, they can take care of the marketing of the event, quality control of the plants, organizing the venue, welcoming and guiding people, and providing catering. Normally, this kind of event is advertised by word of mouth, but social media groups can also be used to reach a wider audience.
2.2 Venue Hire
Venue: Indoors, Outdoors, Garden
This event can take place wherever there is enough room. Very few other considerations are needed.
Capacity: 101 – 1000 people / > 1000 people
Depends on the venue you have booked.
2.3 Partner Institutions
Partner Institutions: Recommended
Usually people who are interested in aspects of biology, organic living, climate change, sustainability, and greener choices are the ones who would organize the event. A gardener would talk about the plants and their importance to the world and nature. Organisations who focus on conservation may also be interested in participating and giving information about how to preserve certain species. Garden centers are often eager to be sponsors and participate. Members of the city council may also want to participate and give a brief speech.
Project Budget: This event is free and organized on a voluntary basis therefore no budget is needed. Although some funds maybe be required if you are hoping to provide refreshments, but sponsorship or organisations affiliated with the project may be able to supply these funds.
3.1 Target Audience
Target Audience: All ages
The target audience is for all people from children to the adults who live in the area.
Target Audience: Preschool (0–4) / Primary School (5–11) / Secondary School (12–17) / Youths (18–25) / Younger Adults (26–45) / Older Adults (46–64) / Pensioners (65+)
Marketing is mainly done via social media like Facebook and discussion forums. City councils will likely be eager to market this kind of event. A sponsor might also market the event on its channels. As this is a community event, word of mouth is very efficient, and local newspapers may willing to write articles before and after the event, this may require someone to write a short PR piece to be sent to the newspapers. When the event is organized on an annual basis, people would anticipate future events.
3.3 Dialogic Strategy
The event is targeted for those who are interested in organic living, green life, plants, and environmental issues but also those people who want to create a better neighborhood. In this way, specialists, experts, and gardeners are mixing with other members of the community as fellow neighbours rather than as authority figures. Plants can be quite expensive, which is why this is a great opportunity to get seeds and plants for free and learn how to take care of them; learning what kind of soil is the best for the plants, what light conditions are best, and how often they need watering, etc. Participants can also learn what plants are indigenous and which are imported to the country. This learning takes place in an accessible manner through informal conversations and helps promote the common idea about greener living and saving the environment.
4.1 Project Timeline
The organiser decides the dates for the exchange and rents the venue about six weeks before the event (normally at no cost). After announcing the dates, the marketing and recruiting of participants begins on Facebook and discussion forums. The organiser also sends media/PR releases for the local newspaper about four weeks before the event.
4.2 Single Event Structure
- At 10.00 AM people start to organize their stalls and at 12.00 PM the exchange starts.
- Catering is provided from 10.00 AM till 4 PM. There is some music and informal discussion throughout. If the city council participates (or members of the city council), they may wish to offer a welcome speech at 12.00.
- At 3 PM, stalls start to collect their plants and wrap up the event. This normally takes about an hour.
4.3 Personnel roles
If the city district council reserves the venue, they may decide the date themselves. Otherwise, anyone who is interested in organizing the event can do so. Either the city district council or the core team should market the event and recruit volunteers who would help prepare the venue on the day.
Different kinds of plants are needed and means to store them. Tables, chairs and access to water would be required but other than that there are no other required materials.
4.5 Other Logistics
Bins for rubbish and public toilets may be required.
People learn what it means to protect the environment, preserve cultural heritage, how to promote active citizenship and environmental awareness. The event brings nature into the cities and provides a unique experience for city inhabitants. It is important to understand the role of plants for humankind and to promote a strong sense of community.
Those who participate evaluate the event on the Facebook and discussion boards. The local media evaluates the event on its news formats. Word of mouth can also form part of the evaluation.